The Union representing teachers at Beaulieu has described an "increasingly difficult" working environment for its members, and expressed "mounting" concerns about the way the school is being run.
The strongly-worded statement on behalf of the NASUWT, came following the recent departure of a key member of staff, Andrea Firby - which they described as “very worrying” - and has led to a possible boycott of the first day of next term by some parents.
Yesterday, the school called on parents to rally behind it and not to keep their children at home.
Pippa Davidson-Coleshill, who is the Chief Operating Officer at Beaulieu Convent School, confirmed earlier this week that Mrs Firby, Head of School, had taken voluntary redundancy.
Mrs Davidson-Coleshill also confirmed that the school was aware of the planned protest, and said: “We would urge [parents] to support us, as what we are doing is in the best interests of the pupils and parents.”
Heart breaking to read, ‘sending your children to school is in their best interest’ of course it is, but so is keeping an inspirational head teacher who ALWAYS placed her student’s best interests first in everything she did https://t.co/xVFvteeYng— Suzanne Day (@suz_jersey) December 29, 2022
However, Marina Mauger of the NASUWT described Mrs Firby’s exit as “very worrying”, explaining that staff are “rightly croncerned about the decisions of senior management."
She said: “We have been in continual contact with this school about the events occurring and our concerns have been mounting.
“The staff have been rightly concerned about the decisions of senior management which the union have only been made party to after events.”
Mrs Mauger also described an “unusually high” rate of staff turnover at Beaulieu, attributing this to the school becoming “an increasingly difficult environment to work in."
She added: “Why a local school feels it needs both a CEO and a COO is mystifying it is hardly a multi-academy trust.
“The removal of a successful and popular Head is very worrying at a time when the school has spent considerable amounts on U.K. recruitment when able local candidates were available for these roles.”
Pictured: Marina Mauger, local representative of the NASUWT teachers' union (David Ferguson).
Mrs Mauger concluded: “We are confident that our members will continue to provide pupils with an excellent educational opportunity. This will be their priority in difficult times.
“However we have no such confidence in the management structure. Many trustees have resigned which is a statement in itself.
“We are endeavouring to work with our members to bring a speedy resolution to this situation.”
A Beaulieu staff member, who spoke to the JEP and Express but wished to remain anonymous, praised Mrs Firby as an “outstanding practitioner” who is “passionate about education”.
They added: “Many students and staff chose to work at or attend that school because of Andrea [Firby]. Staff are 100% behind her and parents are too.”
Pictured: Mrs Firby has been "the face of Beaulieu" for over a decade.
Parents have also taken to social media to voice their concerns, with many expressing their disbelief at the departure of “loved and adored” Mrs Firby, who was commended online as the “backbone” and “heartbeat” of the school.
Commenting on Facebook, one parent described Mrs Firby as “incredibly principled” and suggested that her departure “will leave a massive void”.
Another parent commented: “As a Beaulieu parent, I am appalled at how the situation is being handled. Shocked at Mrs Firby’s departure. Saddened, disappointed.
“My girl will definitely be staying home on the first day of term to show our support for Mrs Firby.”
A parent who contacted the JEP and Express, but wished to remain anonymous, said: “Every parent will tell you that Andrea would never have left that school voluntarily. She lived and breathed it; she was Beaulieu and put the interests of the school and those children before herself.
“She is honest, respectful and full of integrity. She was their best asset.”
@BeaulieuPrimary find it somewhat ironic that school calls move to streamline management... but the school now has a Chief Operating Officer reporting to CEO formerly known as the Headmaster. Anyone else find this bizarre? https://t.co/IvAlSYE1Tw— ANDY BROWN (@ANDYDB7) December 29, 2022
Natalie, also a parent, added: “I fear that Beaulieu has started a shift towards being run as a corporate business and not a ‘nurturing school’ with the girls' best education at the heart.
“These events have made me look in more detail at the structure and associated ‘costs’, and question the make-up of the fee I am paying each term as well as the values which I thought I was signing up to - integrity, honesty, opportunities and respect."
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.
There are no comments for this article.