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Four governors resign at new Welshpool Primary School

Created on 30/07/2018 @ 13:11
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Four governors have quit from the new Welshpool Church Of Wales Primary School blaming a religious influence, personality politics and a lack of support from Powys County Council.

Governing body chairman Brendan McWhinnie, vice chairman Alison Bowen and Mike Gregory and Derek Simms have all resigned leaving the school searching for new governors.

Mr McWhinnie (pictured) said:“The holding of prayers during or before Governing Body meetings had been a topic of discussion by governors throughout the school year. Arising from this, in my capacity as Chair, I sought advice from Powys County Council as to the most suitable and considerate way forward to enable governors to participate in prayer. 

“In consideration of the schools christian ethos, advice was given that it would be acceptable for those governors that so wished to join in prayer five minutes before commencement of a meeting.

“I personally felt this was a respectful, considerate and inclusive way forward. 

“As a subsequent comment was made that prayer should be part of the actual meeting agenda as opposed to being held immediately prior to commencement of the meeting, I decided to tender my resignation. I did not feel the need to involve myself in further protracted and unnecessary discussion about this particular subject.

“The role of the governing body is to provide strong, effective, strategic leadership and support to the excellent Headteacher and her staff.  It is imperative that the governing body therefore provides the very best learning environment for the children of our community. It is disappointing when other issues distract from this primary aim.

“I wish to place on record my very sincere thanks and best wishes to all former governor colleagues, Headteacher, staff and pupils. I wish you all every success for the future
“It has been a great personal privilege to have served the Welshpool Church in Wales Infant and Primary School  as the Chair of Governors . I am very grateful to my former governor colleagues for allowing me this opportunity.”

Mr Simms said resigning had been a difficult decision: “Having said that a more recent underlying perception of unease and disunity amongst some of the governing body, together with a strong dissatisfaction with Powys County Council certainly made my decision less difficult.

“I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to all governors with whom I have had the pleasure to work alongside, both currently and in years gone by. In particular, to Brendan, Alison and Mike who really have been stalwarts in their work and dedication to the schools in the local community, a very big thank you.”

Mr Gregory said was particularly scathing of Powys County Council: “Whilst all governors, without exception, on the new governing body had one clear aim from the outset; ‘to obtain the best possible levels of education and resources for the young children of Welshpool’, the support from officers at Powys County Council in helping to achieve this goal has been woefully lacking,” he said.

“From the outset there was no project plan, (which governors requested on numerous occasions) which resulted in there being no clear operational strategy to take required actions forward.

“From the school closure processes, to staff appointments and budget planning everything was left to the last minute.

“Actions request of officers were not forthcoming and governors were left frustrated and not feeling in control of the processes, but merely being used to rubber stamp actions when required.

“In November 2017, an urgent meeting was called to approve draft outline plans of the new school building to meet planning deadlines. The governors raised a number of concerns about the design, some relating to health and safety.

“Assurances were given that concerns would be taken on board and revised plans brought back to the governors for their consideration. The draft plans we were told were being presented purely to start the planning process and to hit committee cycles.

“Many requests were made to see the revised plans, nothing at the time of my resignation in May had bene forthcoming.

“It was based on this continuous lack of response by officers and concerns I had about the building that I could not sign up to the new school development; which had not in my opinion received sufficient scrutiny by those responsible for its future management.

“This together with the inept support received from Powys County Council on wider issues meant I chose to resign,” added Mr Gregory.

Mr Gregory also spoke in praise of resigning chairman Mr McWhinnie. “Throughout his time in the chair he has taken forward the views and concerns of fellow governors in a determined and focused manner, never losing sight of the responsibilities and trust vested in the group for the long-term planning of primary education in Welshpool. This was generally appreciated by all.”

Alsion Bowen said: "I have resigned as vice chairman from Welshpool Church in Wales primary School due to work commitments and personal issues it was with a heavy heart that I made this decision,l have been involved with schools in Welshpool for 19 years firstly as Chairman of Oldford Nursery and Infant school and a LEA governor at Maesydre school the same time as being on the temporary governors and more recently the full Welshpool Church in Wales Primary governing body."

Powys County Councillor Francesca Jump (pictured) has been elected as the new chairman and praised the outgoing governors.

“On behalf of the Board of Governors of Welshpool Church in Wales Primary School I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to our recently resigned governors for their hard work and dedication to our school,” she said.

“Over many years they have contributed to overseeing the running of the school. I have enjoyed working with them and wish them well in the future. 

“Two new governors will be joining us in September and will be assisting us to ensure that the best possible standard of education will be provided to our pupils.”

A Powys County Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the resignations but this is a matter for the governing body. We are aware that the governing body is making efforts to fulfil the vacant posts in time for the start of the new school year in September.”

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