A CRISIS-hit school has been rocked by the shock resignation of its headteacher and entire board of governors.
Bispham High School headteacher Margaret Singleton quit her role along with 12 governors.
It comes after the school was hit with a damning Oftsed report and amid ongoing controversy surrounding a planned merger with Collegiate High School which would see Bispham High closed.
Today, governors told The Gazette they felt they had “been backed into a corner” by the merger plans and felt they had no choice but to resign.
Deputy headteacher John Topping, who has now taken on the role of acting headteacher, admitted the Bispham Road school was facing “challenging times”.
The school has faced a turbulent few months.
It was the first secondary school in the resort to be placed under special measures while a public consultation regarding the proposal to merge the two schools to create an academy on the Collegiate site was launched.
In a statement, the governing body said: “In its commitment to support the pupils, parents, staff and wider community, the governing body has voted against both the merger and re-location.
“To make clear its support, all governors entitled to vote resigned with immediate effect.”
Mr Topping, in a letter sent to parents before the Easter bank holiday, which many only received yesterday, said: “To ensure strong governance is in place, the local authority will be putting in an Interim Executive Board, members of which will be committed to leading the school through this difficult and uncertain time.
“Of course the local authority will continue to support our school.
“My leadership team and I will continue to work to ensure the pupils and the staff are supported through these challenging times.”
It is understood Mrs Singleton told staff on Wednesday before the letter was the sent out to parents by Mr Topping the following day.
Plans were announced last year for the two schools, on Bispham Road and Blackpool Old Road, to be merged and housed in new £10m facilities on the Collegiate site.
A public consultation on the proposals began in January – the same month inspectors from Ofsted, the independent body which inspects schools, issued a damning report. It labelled Bispham High’s governing body as “ineffective” and the school as “inadequate”.
Coun Chris Ryan, one of Bispham High’s governors and councillor for the Greenlands ward, said: “[Resigning] was the only action we had left to show support.
“Even if we’d taken that decision and not resigned they would have removed us anyway.”
Leanne Mclean, a parent governor whose 14-year-old son Liam attends the school, said: “It’s to show our solidarity, that we’re against the merger and relocation.
“It feels like we’ve been backed into a corner and not had any say and whatever we do isn’t going to make a difference. This is the only way we can make a stand.
“I have no faith or trust in the system any more so I wouldn’t want to stand as a governor. I can’t work for something I don’t trust.
“This is a done deal as far as I’m concerned, we’ll get replaced anyway so we want to show staff we’re 100 per cent behind them.
“I think people will understand why we’ve resigned and will see that we’re still behind the school – we’re not deserting it.”
Coun Christine Wright, also one of the school’s governors and councillor for the Greenlands ward, said: “It was felt we could probably have more of an influence from outside.
“We don’t want staff to feel we’ve abandoned them. We want parents, pupils and staff to know we felt it was necessary to do that, to do their wishes, to support them in the best way we could.”
Trudy Lockhart, who stepped down as chairman of governors in February, following the Ofsted inspection in January, said: “I’m glad they’ve stepped down because they’ve done what they had to do, which is what they believe in.”
Leaders at Blackpool Council say they hope the resignation of some of the school’s senior management will herald a fresh start for the school.
Coun Sarah Riding, cabinet member for schools and education, said: “There’s no denying that Bispham School is going through an extremely challenging time at the moment.
“The changes to the leadership and governance of the school give us an opportunity to start afresh and tackle the challenges head on.
“I’m sure the staff at Bispham are as committed as we are to improving the standards at the school ensuring the best outcomes for Blackpool children and young people.
“The council has put an interim executive board (of council officers) in place to govern the school through this uncertain and difficult time.
“John Topping is now the acting head and we look forward to working with him.”