A headteacher who was suspended after she said that some teachers were ‘sat at home doing nothing’ during lockdown has been backed by parents.
Pauline Wood, the head of Grange Park Primary in Sunderland, has been investigated after she allegedly brought the school into disrepute.
In an interview on BBC Radio Newcastle, the headteacher of 15 years described some of the teachers at her school as “behaving like petulant kids”.
She then accused members of her staff of spending “more time watching Netflix” then working from home during the pandemic.
Since her comments on the radio station aired, she has been backed by parents.
One parent took to social media and wrote: “Me and my husband selected Grange Park as our first choice for our little boy to attend in September.
“We have had the place accepted but I’m gutted you won’t be head! Good on you for speaking the truth!
“I am slightly nervous that standards are going to drop! Hopefully not!”
Another person commented: “Well done Pauline Wood. The lack of support from some schools/teachers has been a national disgrace. You should be reinstated immediately.”
Meanwhile, a third said: “A head teacher with a backbone! Anyone in Sunderland should write to their MP and local media showing support for this common sense, straight talking, award nominated Head Teacher. Well done Pauline Wood.”
One parent stated: “I think Pauline Wood deserves a pat on the back for being honest.
“I work with teachers every day and I can guarantee some really are lazy. Some have not worked 10 hours a week let alone flat out.”
Even a former pupil of the school got involved, praising the headteacher by saying: “Best HT ever!!! Speaking from my 4-11-year-old self.
“True inspiration, hard working, passionate (extremely glamorous) and dedication to educating her pupils. Huge respect.”
After the interviewer read out the comments from concerned parents about the level of support schools were offering their kids throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Ms Wood was suspended.
Ms Wood had replied to the interviewer: “Yes, some teachers have been in [schools], but many have not been in at any time. Safety is paramount, but don’t make out teachers have all been working flat out.”
The headteacher then went on to say that many teachers were using this time to work hard “coming up with the most imaginative, amazing things” whilst others “sit at home doing nothing – I won’t defend those people”.
She was then asked if this in reference to any of the teachers at her school, to which she responded: “Yes, I think it’s time we talked about the elephant in the room.”
A UCL study has found that a whopping 2.3 million children across the UK are hardly doing any schoolwork throughout lockdown at all.
According to the study, kids are only spending around 2.5 hours a day on their schoolwork – this is less than half of what was originally thought.
After Ms Wood shared her views on the effects of lockdown on education, her thoughts were described as “very refreshing”. Yet school governors did not appear to agree and suspended her after complaints were made.
The headteacher was informed that her comments “raised serious concerns about your professional conduct and judgment…which potentially brings the school into disrepute”.
Ms Wood told The Sun: “As a head teacher, I think all adults in charge of children’s life chances should be excellent role models, so I give truthful answers, behave with dignity and refuse to be bullied into PC.
“It is very concerning that a headteacher can be suspended for giving a truthful answer to questions posed by members of the public.”
Addressing the issue further, she added on Twitter: “As head teachers, our job descriptions say we should hold staff to account. Advice in lockdown is not to do disciplinaries, capabilities or appraisals.
“My school will have a new Senior Leadership Team in September so I asked the new Chair to listen to my significant concerns about a minority of staff and my excellent middle leaders presented evidence to her too. Her reply was ‘I just want everyone to be happy’.
“So, paid full time, work less than half time, sod the children. I set up our learning platform, I directed staff to phone parents. You don’t get to be outstanding easily, and it’s even harder to stay there.”
Ms Wood has described the situation as “disheartening”, especially as she has achieved “great and sustained outcomes” whilst the school was under her leadership.
Since her leadership, the school went from an “inadequate” report to “outstanding”.