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Alness Academy parents' evening postponed amid staff absence concerns at Easter Ross school


By Hector MacKenzie

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Alness Academy.
Alness Academy.

AN Easter Ross secondary at the centre of a staff absence crisis has postponed a parents' evening planned for next week.

As we reported earlier this week, Alness Academy has called a meeting of parents and carers next week amidst what Highland Council termed "some staffing changes".

A letter shared with parents and carers says that as of Monday, the local authority will lead the school management team with the support of experienced senior staff Les Mackay, Deirdre Murray, and Alan Auld.

Highland Council has refused to provide further information or answer questions on the matter, stating that it does not comment on personnel matters.

A "parental engagement evening" is planned for Wednesday of next week.

Meanwhile the school today told parents that an S2 parents’ evening scheduled for Monday, (November 27) has now been postponed.

A letter from deputy head teacher Paul Honour states: "Due mainly to staff absences, the decision has been taken to postpone the event until the spring term. A new date will be sent out after Christmas, with student reports and appointment details being sent and made available at that point."

It goes on to say that if "any parents of our young people have specific concerns, they can contact the respective principal teachers of guidance or additional support needs or indeed Mr MacKay who is now year head for S2".

See also: Poignant last day of school moments for Ross-shire pupils

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Nicky Grant, executive chief officer for education and learning, is a former head at the school.
Nicky Grant, executive chief officer for education and learning, is a former head at the school.

Earlier this week Highland Council's executive chief officer for education and learning, Nicky Grant, – herself a former head teacher at Alness Academy – wrote a joint letter with the school's parent council chair, Anna Salgado, in a bid to allay concerns and set out the plan of action for the immediate future.

The letter states: "We write to update you on some staffing changes at Alness Academy due to key members of staff being absent.

"As of Monday, the local authority will lead the school management team with the support of experienced senior staff Les Mackay, Deirdre Murray, and Alan Auld.

"The focus of the team will be to provide stability and support to our young people and staff as well as provide reassurance to our parents and wider school community.

"With this in mind, Anna and I would like to invite you to a parental engagement evening on Wednesday 29th November at 7pm in Alness Academy.

"Senior staff from the council, our senior management team and some of our young people will be present to outline our planned priorities for our school as well as answer any questions that you may have."

The letter finishes: "We require your support at this time and look forward to welcoming you into our school."

The Ross-shire Journal was earlier contacted by pupils expressing concern about teacher absences and asking us to shed light on the situation.

Highland Council, in response to follow-up questions on the situation at the school, would only say: "The council is unable to comment on personnel matters. However, interim arrangements are in place and parents have been notified of these."


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