Staff take vote of no confidence over Merrill College's new head teacher
STAFF at a city secondary school set to become an academy have unanimously voted that they have no confidence in its new head teacher.
More than 60 teachers and other workers at Merrill College are believed to have met yesterday about Michael Whelan.
Mr Whelan took over as head teacher of the college on September 1 and will become principal of the school when it becomes an academy sponsored by Derby College on January 1.
Mr Whelan has previously told the Derby Telegraph he is aiming to turn Merrill into an "outstanding" school after improvements in exam results over the summer.
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But last night teachers said pupil behaviour at the school had dipped dramatically since Mr Whelan, who is an employee of Derby College pending the academy launch, took over.
It is understood that staff wanted to walk out immediately in protest but union rules state that they must be balloted for any industrial action.
Dave Wilkinson, branch secretary of Derby NASUWT, which has 37 teacher members at Merrill College, said there was a unanimous vote for the replacement of the principal. He said the vote of no confidence also extended to Derby College.
He said: "Teacher after teacher reported that standards of pupil behaviour had plummeted to its lowest level ever, educational standards were in serious jeopardy and many teachers were now facing potential redundancy due to restructuring.
"It has become clear to NASUWT that Merrill is not just facing meltdown, it is already melting."
Mr Wilkinson said teachers were suffering due to high levels of stress absence and threats to jobs caused by restructuring.
One member of staff, who asked not to be named, said: "Over the last seven weeks, we have had a lot of problems with pupil behaviour. It's been unbelievable. We also fear there may be redundancies."
Merrill College has had an unsettled past in recent years after repeated poor results. In 2010, it became a National Challenge Trust school, working alongside Derby College. This started a gradual recovery which culminated in improved results in August and a positive inspection from the Office for Standards in Education.
Last night, a spokeswoman for the school's governing body said that the governors had not been made aware that the staff meeting had taken place.
She said: "We have not been notified of the meeting or its outcome. If and when we do receive correspondence on the matter an extraordinary meeting of the governing body will be called."
Mandie Stravino, chief executive of Derby College, said although the college does not officially become the academy sponsor until January it had worked closely with the school for the past two years.
She said: "We have recently put in extra resources to support the team during this challenging transitional phase. We have continually given reassurances that, with the exception of a handful of managers, the staff will all transfer over to the academy on existing terms and conditions from January 1."