Berwickshire High School staff threaten to boycott Parent Council

MEMBERS of staff at the Berwickshire High School are threatening to boycott the Parent Council following the recent furore over a girls only uniform assembly.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 15th September 2010, 2:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2010, 2:46 pm

That was the gist of a letter sent to Glenn Rodger, Scottish Borders Council's director of education and lifelong learning last week, believed to have been composed by four principal teachers at the school and signed by more than 60 members of staff.

The letter expressed staff members' "extreme disappointment that a member(s) of the Parent Council have chosen to attract negative publicity to the school on the basis of misinformation," and claimed this was the latest in a series of "negative interventions" by individuals on the Parent Council.

Staff members told the Berwickshire News this week that their concern was not with the Parent Council as whole, but with some individuals who they felt had used meetings to air their own agendas, rather than focusing on the wider interests of all pupils. They also believed that a significant number of parents had resigned from the council because of the "negative influence of a minority".

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The letter was written after reports of the controversial uniform assembly appeared in the national press, with calls for the rector to quit. During the assembly, held at the school in June, rector Robert Kelly warned girls their clothing could encourage "inappropriate thoughts", and pointed to a TV advert by Rape Crisis Scotland as evidence of the effect skimpy clothing could have on men.

Some parents were horrified by Mr Kelly's handling of the issue, but in the letter to Mr Rodger, staff said they felt the rector's decision to address the issue was "entirely appropriate."

They wrote: "Staff present, including the female pastoral staff, have full confidence in the way the rector has handled the matter."

The letter, dated September 6, concluded: "Currently some staff are working constructively in partnership with members of the Parent Council. It is felt that until the matter above is resolved to our satisfaction, continued co-operation we believe would not be appropriate."

Karen Thomas, chair of the Parent Council, has seen a copy of the letter. to Mr Rodger. She said: "It came to me anonymously so I don't know how seriously we can take it, however, I have written to Mr Rodger and systematically responded to every point,"

Ms Thomas said that the Parent Council had wanted uniform issues at the school to be addressed, and although they felt the way Mr Kelly approached the issue was "inappropriate", she said they had not called for his resignation, and felt that some of the goings-on at Parent Council meetings were misconstrued.

"The Parent Council did not ask for the rector to quit, I don't know where that came from. We're not some body vying for the rector's blood!" she said.

Ms Thomas admitted the issue had become "a bit of a side show", and said there were other issues, such as attainment, that the Parent Council were trying to focus on.

"I'm looking for a resolution to this and I'm sorry it's got this far."