Headteacher to leave post due to being remarried

PARENTS have been left outraged as the headteacher of a Catholic primary school has to leave his position due to the fact he is divorced and remarried.

Thursday, 1st December 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:37 pm
St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Gosport

Lyndon Strong took on the role of acting head at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, in Gosport, in September 2015 and has been a highly popular figure at the school.

However, due to Mr Strong being remarried after previously being divorced, the Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, Phillip Egan, has said he cannot take on the role permanently and he will leave at the end of term.

Parents say Mr Strong has made a significant difference at St Mary’s, in Ann’s Hill Road, and an online petition has been set up to try to keep him.

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Julie D’Arcy said: ‘Mr Strong does a lot for single parents and those without fathers look up to him as a male figure in their lives.

‘What the bishop is not looking at is the education of the children.’

Lesley McGregor said: ‘It will be a massive loss. He supports parents as well, not just pupils.

‘He really believes in his position and his faith but he doesn’t push it.

‘In any other job it would be discrimination.

Sam Harden said: ‘I have signed the petition and I think it is unbelievable.

‘The school takes children from all faiths and they need to get into the 21st century.’

Gosport Borough councillor Peter Chegwyn, who represents Leesland ward, had also heard about the work that Mr Strong has done at the school.

Cllr Chegwyn said: ‘I don’t know him personally but I know he has been a very good head.

‘I have a lot of respect for religion but I think the bishop needs to think again.’

In a letter to parents, Mr Strong said: ‘This is a difficult time personally as I have relished being the acting headteacher, deputy headteacher and most importantly teacher at St Mary’s but there are personal circumstances I would like to remain outside the public domain that won’t allow me to apply for the post of substantive headteacher.’

A spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese has said that the decision is national policy within the Catholic church.

He said to be appointed a permanent headteacher, an applicant must be able to sign the memorandum of understanding in which they would state that they are a practising Catholic of good standing.

The spokesman added: ‘The bishop and trustees would like to record their gratitude for the untiring work and quality of the professional contribution Mr Strong has made to St Mary’s primary school and to wish him well as he pursues leadership in another school.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has written to the bishop in hope that he changes his mind. Ms Dinenage said: ‘From what parents are concerned about, it seems they are right to be concerned.

‘If what the bishop’s office says is the case, it seems very odd and children’s education is being sacrificed.’