Northern Ireland

De La Salle College in Andersonstown: Third of teachers absent at school on one day

De La Salle College
Image caption De La Salle College's principal Claire White said the school was 'actively managing the situation'

About a third of the teaching staff at one of west Belfast's biggest secondary schools were absent on Monday, the BBC understands.

At least 24 teachers at De La Salle College in Andersonstown were absent out of a full-time teaching staff of about 70.

There have been ongoing industrial problems at the school over the past few months.

Its principal said the school was "dealing with some internal issues".

There were a number of days when significant numbers of staff were absent in early November 2015.

Following that, a range of meetings were held involving school staff, governors, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and the teaching unions.

In January 2016, a "strategic plan for renewal" was drawn up and a "strategy group" was established "to address a range of issues raised by staff relating to the operation of the school".

The plan had a number of "action plan areas", including:

  • A review of staff structure and line management
  • A "review of pastoral care including safeguarding/pupil discipline procedures and serious incident processes"
  • A review of "staff welfare policy"
  • Mechanisms for "raising and resolving staff concerns"

The plan also said that "there should be no ultimatums, threats or vetoes to any part of the process" and that there should be no communication with the media except with the authority of the strategy group.

The BBC understands that there have been delays in the implementation of that action plan.

'Industrial action'

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO), which represents the majority of teaching staff in the school, said they were attempting to address a number of ongoing issues.

Image caption There have been ongoing industrial problems at the school over the past few months

The union's northern secretary, Gerry Murphy, said: "INTO is increasingly concerned with the slow progress towards a resolution, and is now considering further targeted industrial action within the school."

In a statement to the BBC, De La Salle's principal Claire White said the school was "actively managing the situation".

"De La Salle College is committed to providing the highest levels of education provision to its pupils and it takes the wellbeing of its pupils and staff extremely seriously," she said.

"The college will continue to work closely with the relevant bodies, including the trade unions, to resolve these issues in as timely a manner as possible."

Meanwhile, the CCMS said they were continuing to work with the board of governors, the principal and teacher unions to reach a resolution.

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