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Council's ultimatum to troubled faith school.

Byline: Gareth Evans

A FAITH school has been given a warning notice from the council amid fears a "serious breakdown" in management could prejudice pupils' performance.

St Alban's RC Primary in Tremorfa, Cardiff, has until May 6 to get its house in order following a long-running investigation into personnel matters.

Two teachers have been suspended from the school for the last 18 months and another for a year while governors decide what action to take.

But Cardiff council appear to be running out of patience and have issued the school's hierarchy with an ultimatum to complete outstanding disciplinary hearings as soon as possible.

The governing body must also act on grievances brought by staff against headteacher Jane Vaterlaws and investigate issues raised by parents - or risk further action.

Cardiff council said failure to respond to the warning notice would trigger the appointment of additional governors to ensure progress is made.

In a letter to chair of governors Peter Landers, council education chief Chris Jones said: "Council officers have engaged with governors and the headteacher of the school over the last two years about a range of complaints, grievances and disciplinary matters.

"I believethat officershave engaged fully and constructively with the governing body to assist in resolving these issues.

"Unfortunately, I do not believe that sufficient progress is being made which is causing additional problems of timescale and challenge.

"There has been a serious breakdown in the way the school is managed or governed which is likely to prejudice pupils' standards of performance."

Mr Jones said personnel absences and poor quality of staff, community and Parish-based relationships will all impact negatively on teaching and learning unless urgent steps are taken.

A parent, who asked not to be named, said news of the official warning would come as a shock to those associated with the school.

"It's absolutely appalling that nobody's been told," said the parent.

"The fact of the matter is, nobody is working together on this. It's not acceptable and children are losing out big time."

Mr Landers confirmed he had received the warning notice and that it was discussed at a meeting of the council and school governors.

He said: "The largely new governing body views this as a serious but helpful intervention by the chief education officer.

"A number of disciplinary and grievance issues are unresolved and the governing body is very aware of the need to complete these processes.

"We are confident that with the full support of the local authority we will resolve the outstanding issues within the agreed time frame."

Mrs Vaterlaws has been missing from the school through illness since April 1, though she is expected to return after Easter.

A council spokeswoman said the notice was issued following a "long period of discussion" with the school's governing body.

THE ST ALBAN'S WARNING NOTICE By May 6, the governing body must: 1. Complete the disciplinary hearings of the three suspended teachers and advise them of the outcomes 2. Complete the grievances brought by members of staff against headteacher Jane Vaterlaws, advising them both of the outcome 3. Complete the investigation into complaints brought via Sinclairs Solicitors (through parents) and arrange any actions that result from its findings By June 3, the governing body must: 1. Complete any appeals processes that may arise from the three disciplinary cases 2. Complete any appeals processes that may arise from the grievances 3. If applicable, complete any actions arising from the Sinclairs letter, including any appeals processes


* St Alban's RC Primary School, in Cardiff, where two teachers have been suspended
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 18, 2011
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