Headteacher shuts down Facebook page over 'demoralising' messages about staff

RUMOURS swirling around a headteacher’s decision to tell students to stay at home forced her to shut the school’s Facebook page.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 10:55 am
Havant Academy

Faced with three staff out on training and four more unexpectedly off, Victoria Adams took the tough decision to shut classes for Key Stage 3 - Years 7 to 9.

It was an emergency closure, announced on November 26 and put into effect the next day at Havant Academy.

‘I didn’t want children to come in have a bad deal,’ Mrs Adams told The News.

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‘I felt it was appropriate that we used all the teachers we did have for Years 10 and 11 for the upcoming examinations.

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‘If the parents said “actually I want my child in because they’re missing out on education” then of course we could’ve housed them.

‘We could have had the whole day taught by supply teachers and that to me was not good enough so therefore I made that decision.’

But instantly on the school’s Facebook page the rumour mill started. A caretaker had caught a bug on holiday and spread it. Norovirus infected the hallways.

Neither of these were true. ‘A lot of parents (on Facebook) were really supportive,’ Mrs Adams said.

‘Some parents jumped to the face that we had the norovirus and therefore we were closed for a deep clean.

‘I really don’t know where it came from. I found myself answering a lot of upsetting messages saying I should close if for two days. I had to keep replying saying I’m closing it as I have too many absences.

‘I have staff who follow the Facebook page. To me I don’t think it’s fair to see those sorts of messages..

‘It can be really demoralising to staff to read comments that are not particularly favourable about them, and they’re thinking: “We’re working our backsides off”.’

Instead, Mrs Adams said she urges parents to speak with her directly about any problems. She said: ‘If 20 parents want to line up outside my door and go through it, that’s okay. But I don’t want a Facebook battle.’

A new Facebook presence will be set up to highlight the school’s successes but people will not be able to comment.

Mrs Adams said some children could have been taught by supply teachers all day, and that would not have been good enough.