The real St Trinians: Headmistress of failing Levenshulme school has so far pocketed £43,000 while suspended

By Jon Harris

A  Manchester headmistress who was excluded from her all-girls school after it was named and shamed by parents as a ‘real life St Trinian’s’ has pocketed £43,000 of taxpayers cash since she was sent home, it emerged today.

Amanda Thain, 54, had been suspended on full pay from her £86,300 a year Levenshulme High School for Girls job after a damning report exposed a ‘core’ of unruly students who ran riot during lessons which left classmates living in fear.

Her school was later placed in special measures after the inspectors gave it a Grade 4 rating the worst it can possibly give out and branded it ‘inadequate’ and ‘requiring improvement’.

The verdict led to comparisons to the fictional girls’ boarding school, originally created by a cartoonist in the 1940s which later became the subject of hit movies.

But six months since last July’s suspension, a disciplinary inquiry into Mrs Thain, who has been in the post for four years, has not yet been resolved and she is currently still claiming her full salary despite being on gardening leave.

Last night a row broke out about the payments to Mrs Thain who is head at 990 High School where the motto is: ‘More Opportunities to Succeed’.

The investigation came after the school announced plans it was spending £220,000 buying iPads for every pupil to help with homework – and ‘engage’ with teachers.

A snap inspection found the teenage ladettes were involved in a string of bullying incidents and there were reports of brawling, food fights, swearing at teachers, smoking and truancy going unchecked.

One girl tearaway was thrown out of class more than 80 times others sent out 30 times and there was a race-fuelled mass brawl between two gangs of girls.

One large group of girls which had gathered in the playground only dispersed once a police officer had been called to stand among them.

Inspectors from Ofsted found eight pupils had been expelled in less than a year.

They said there was a ‘rapid deterioration’ in behaviour in a few months. The inspectors also warned white British girls were ‘underachieving’ at the school where pupils are predominantly Pakistani and speak English as a second language.

Liberal Democrat MP John Leech, many of whose constituents attend Levenshulme High, has raised the school’s problems previously with Education Minister David Laws.

He said he ‘couldn’t understand’ why Mrs Thain’s suspension had still not been resolved, adding: “It appears the council are burying their head in the sand and paying people to remain on gardening leave, spending money they can’t afford.”

Local Liberal Democrat councillor James Hennigan added: “I understand that due process needs to be followed, but this needs to be dealt with in a timely fashion.

“Every day, week, month that it goes by unresolved it is costing taxpayers thousands of pounds. It is for the benefit of the suspended individuals, staff and indeed pupils and parents that this is dealt with and not ignored.”

Before her suspension Mrs Thain had also been praised by council bosses by saving the local library from closure by offering to use it for the part of each day as a ‘satellite school’ for youngsters who need extra teaching – and pay for the upkeep.

Ofsted called the unannounced inspection on July 3 after a parent complained about the behaviour of pupils. Three inspectors spoke to 100 girls and observed 19 lessons and break times and read 16 responses to a survey.

Their report found behaviour had declined sharply since a previous inspection last October in which inspectors originally said students were ‘courteous, polite and generally cheerful towards adults, visitors and each other’.

In the report the inspectors said: ‘There has been a rapid deterioration in behaviour. A core group of students has disengaged from their education and show no respect for teachers or their fellow students.

”They cause widespread disruption to learning and an unsafe learning environment resulting in eight permanent exclusions in the academic year to date.

”Responses from parents show that approximately one third of parents disagree that their child feels safe in school and approximately half disagree that the school ensures students are well behaved.

”Behaviour logs from this year show regular reports of unacceptable behaviour including students truanting from lessons, leaving the school site, refusing to go to lessons, smoking, and swearing at teachers.

”Some students have been removed from lessons over 30 times this year and one student more than 80 times – a clear illustration that the behaviour system is not working.

”Many students have no confidence in the ability of the school to combat bullying effectively. Consequently, some bullying goes unreported and is allowed to continue.

”Many students feel unsafe in school due to a wide variety of intolerable behaviours including, fighting, congestion and pushing on the stairs, teachers leaving classes unattended, teachers behaving aggressively towards students; and food and drinks being thrown.”

The report says most senior leaders at the school were ‘unaware’ of the scale of the bullying and had ‘an over generous’ view of the quality of teaching due to inaccurate feedback from staff.

A spokesman for Manchester council said: “Suspension is a neutral act pending the outcome of investigation into the matters leading up to it.

”It’s therefore standard employment practice that a suspended individual continues to be paid by their employer until the matter has been resolved.”

Story via Cavendish Press.

Image courtesy of google maps, with thanks

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