Leaking of school’s confidential report angers principal

Celebrating Success... St Paul's High School principal Mr Sean Flanagan, front centre, celebrates the succes of the school's under 14 Gaelic footballers in winning the Ulster Scghools Championship with from left, Barry Mc Cambridge, Martin Mcmahon and Mickey Donnelly, teachers. INLM10-209
Celebrating Success... St Paul's High School principal Mr Sean Flanagan, front centre, celebrates the succes of the school's under 14 Gaelic footballers in winning the Ulster Scghools Championship with from left, Barry Mc Cambridge, Martin Mcmahon and Mickey Donnelly, teachers. INLM10-209

A LURGAN principal has insisted that his school has been ‘grossly misrepresented’ in a story in a daily newspaper.

St Paul’s Junior High School principal Sean Flanagan is furious after a confidential report by a counselling service was leaked to the media.

Carecall counselling services were called into the school in February and March by the board of governors and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) due to concern at the number of staff grievances within the school.

Upon completion of the survey numbered copies of Carecall’s report were distributed to staff and members of the board of governors and then collected again.

However, copies of the report have found their way into the hands of the national and local media in a move which has angered the school and the CCMS and ‘undermined’ the confidential work of Carecall.

The 19-page report came about after a confidential meeting with staff and an online survey.

According to the online survey, none of the respondents agreed that staff morale at the school was good.

Just 12% said staff and the senior management team worked well together while half those who responded said they didn’t enjoy coming to work.

In terms of the findings of the online survey Mr Flanagan said there have been concerns among staff about the direction the questionnaire took them and the context of the questions.

For example he said staff morale in the teaching profession as a whole is not high, and not just a phenomenon unique to St Paul’s.

The Belfast Telegraph ran a story at the weekend with the headline ‘The crisis school where staff morale so bad mental health experts have been drafted in’.

Principal Mr Flanagan said the person who had passed on the confidential document to various media outlets had ‘an agenda’.

He said: “There are agendas at work here. The truth will come out in the fullness of time.”

He commented: “There is a lot of concern with staff and the management team about the way this has happened. The report that appeared in the Belfast Telegraph was a gross misrepresentation of the school.

“There were a number of grievances at the school over a five year period.

“It was seen as a positive way forward to bring in Carecall to meet and discuss issues with staff.”

Mr Flanagan added: “The story in Saturday’s Belfast Telegraph does a disservice to the excellent work being done by the vast majority of staff at the school.”

CCMS said the staff at the school were disappointed that their confidentiality had been compromised by the leaking of the report. A spokesperson added that Carecall were also very concerned that their position as a confidential and independent agency had been undermined.

Eugene O’Neill, Head of HR, Finance and Corporate Governance, said: “The CCMS has been working with the members of the Board of Governors, the school management and staff and the Trade Unions in an effort to address a number of issues amongst staff. 

“This included facilitating the commission of Carecall to establish a baseline of the various concerns. The school has excellent staff that are committed to achieving the best outcomes for the pupils. We are confident that the pupils’ learning and school experience has not been affected by these matters which the whole school community is working together to improve.

“It is our view that the engagement at every level has been positive and constructive and we look forward to completing the work with the whole school community.”

Monsignor Aiden Hamill, chair of the board of governors, said: “I would like to confirm that there have been some industrial relations issues in the school in recent years. We, as a board, have been keen to assist the management and staff in resolving these issues and the work carried out by Carecall has been a step in that direction.

“There is a wealth of positivity, good will and agreement among the management and staff team in relation to moving forward in a progressive way. Management, staff and governors want to reassure the whole community of our continued commitment to the pupils of the school.”