Schools

Exclusive: Trafford Council working “exceptionally hard” to get Bollin Primary School open “as soon as possible”

By David Prior at

Trafford Council is working “exceptionally hard” to get Bollin Primary School open as soon as possible but no date has yet been set for its reopening, its leader told Altrincham Today this morning.

Sean Anstee said that the council’s dramatic decision to close the school yesterday was taken because the 239-pupil Bowdon school wasn’t “operationally safe” due to “reduced senior leadership capacity”.

But he denied that headteacher Michelle Brindle and other members of the school’s leadership team had been sacked or suspended.

He told us today: “We can’t put a timescale on the school’s reopening. What we can say is that we’re working exceptionally hard to get the school open again, and as soon as it is operationally safe it will be open.”

Bollin head teacher Michelle Brindle

Bollin head teacher Michelle Brindle

Amid almost unprecedented scenes in Altrincham yesterday, Bollin parents received an email to inform them that the school had closed “with immediate effect” and that they should come to the school to pick up their children as soon as they could.

A statement released jointly by the council and school governing body said the decision had “not been taken lightly”.

Problems at the school have centred on the breakdown of the relationship between many parents and the school’s headteacher, Michelle Brindle.

Last week, we reported how over 60 parents had staged a protest over what they said was a “climate of fear, intimidation and uncertainty” at the school.

Parents protesting at the school last week

Parents protesting at the school last week

The parents had pointed to a number of “catastrophic” effects since Brindle took over last September, and last week’s protest aslo coincided with strike action by several of the school’s National Union of Teachers (NUT) members, triggered by a row over workload that has led to the teachers working to rule since November.

Today, Anstee said that Brindle and the leadership team “not been suspended or sacked”.

“Staffing matters are primarily the responsibility of the governing body, and we’re not in a position to affect that,” he said.

He said the council had been offering “intensive support over past few months” directly with the school.

Asked whether the school’s pupils will need to be relocated while the school is closed, he said: “That depends on how long the school will be closed for. Our primary focus is on getting it open as soon as possible.”

Anstee, also a ward councillor for Bowdon, said he was “aware” of a video which purports to show Bollin school teachers allegedly drinking on school premises and chanting about the fate of the school’s head teacher.

He added: “We’re aware of the video and are working in conjunction with the school to investigate what happened.”

Asked if he had a message for parents worried about this week’s turn of events, he said: “I understand that action like this is distressing, but all I would say is that we are doing all we can to reopen the school and return the Bollin to being the happy school it was.”