A TEACHING Union has claimed that an academy trust which suspended a primary headteacher over “serious concerns of a non safeguarding nature” had earlier made it clear it wanted him to resign because of concerns about school finances.
The National Union of Teachers has said it is revealing details of a previously confidential meeting at Listerdale Primary School, in Rotherham, after it emerged that some parents were already aware of it.
The suspension of Listerdale Primary headteacher and National Union of Teachers member Craig Roberts has been the subject of ongoing industrial action.
The NUT says the suspension is “unjustified” and warned that further strikes are likely this year.
However the Childrens Academy Trust (TCAT), which runs the school, has said the suspension was necessary in order for an independent formal investigation to take place into “serious concerns of a non-safeguarding nature.”
And the trust has now denied that is has ever sought the resignation of Mr Roberts.
The NUT has claimed that before he was suspended Mr Roberts had a confidential meeting with TCAT in which “it was made clear the employer was seeking his resignation” - something which TCAT disputes.
The NUT said that it was made clear during this meeting that if the head were to resign before an investigation took place he would be able to leave on agreed terms.
The investigation was said to be about concerns over the financial position of the school.
The union also says that the chair of TCAT did not provide further information about these concerns and when the union later asked for more information the trust then withdrew the offer to accept Mr Roberts’ resignation and said an investigation into financial matters would begin. A union statement adds: “Shortly afterwards and without warning at around 8am and without access to union representation or advice, the headteacher was then suspended and again no further information was provided regarding the reasons for that suspension.”
The NUT has said it is now able to disclose details of a previously confidential meeting because it became aware that a parent knew of the meeting and had told union members during a strike that it was “public knowledge.”
The union says that in light of the confidential meeting the remit of the investigation and the choice of the investigators should not have been decided by the chair of the academy trust.
Ian Stevenson NUT regional secretary said: “There has been no evidence throughout this dispute that Craig Roberts as the headteacher of Listerdale Primary school is anything other than a highly committed professional education practitioner and an excellent headteacher of an outstanding school.
“The attempt to remove him from his post has been unjustified and without reasonable cause.”
A TCAT spokeswoman said: “From the outset we have been very clear that because of the serious nature of the concerns this would have to be subject to a full investigation in line with standard procedure.
“We have never sought the resignation of the headteacher.
“We remain mindful of the need to maintain a fair and confidential process as we continue to work towards a resolution.”