Edinburgh primary school gets its fourth headteacher in 8 months

A CITY primary school is about to get its fourth headteacher in eight months after it was announced the current holder of the post has gone on leave of absence.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 6:00 am
Liz Walshe, headteacher at Oxgangs Primary school .

Oxgangs Primary head Liz Walshe was suspended in September last year amid complaints about the handling of bullying allegations at the school.

A headteacher from elsewhere in the city was drafted in on a temporary basis and then replaced by another.

Mrs Walshe returned to her job in January. But now parents have been told she is absent again and a new interim headteacher will take over next week.

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Oxgangs Primary School. Pic: Stewart Attwood

It is understood Mrs Walshe’s latest absence is health-related and not linked to the previous allegations around bullying.

A letter sent to parents by the school’s depute head Sarah Crole, headed “Temporary management changes”, said: “I am writing to let you know Mrs Walshe is currently absent from school and we will be supported in the meantime by Mr Kevin Brack, headteacher from Brunstane Primary School as our Interim Headteacher from Wednesday, May 8, 2019.

“Mr Brack is an experienced headteacher and is looking forward to joining the Oxgangs community.

“I am sure everyone will make him feel welcome. He will be in school all day tomorrow to meet children and staff.

“Thank you for your ongoing support.”

Oxgangs Primary School suffered massive disruption in 2016 when it was at the centre of the crisis over structural faults at 17 city schools built under a public private partnership contract.

It was the collapse of an outer wall at Oxgangs that alerted officials to the problem. Pupils had to be taught elsewhere while checks and repairs were carried out.

When Mrs Walshe was suspended in September last year, one of the city’s most respected heads, Anthea Grierson from Juniper Green Primary, has been drafted in to take the helm.

She stayed until the October half-term when Paul Ewing, headteacher at Liberton Primary, took over as interim head.

Oxgangs Conservative councillor Jason Rust said: “There have effectively been four headteachers in less than a year and clearly parents are concerned. It is important that pupils are not unsettled and that every effort is made to minimise the educational disruption and impact on the school community. Given all that the school has been through I am confident that the pupils, staff and parents will meet this latest challenge and hopefully the focus can get back to all the good work at the school”.

A council spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on personnel issues.”