A PRIMARY school in Halesowen is in danger of closing due to a lack of staff and students unless its headteacher leaves, insist concerned parents.

Parents of children at St Margaret’s C of E Primary in Hasbury have demanded the removal of head Sara Shepherd via an online petition that has garnered more than 260 signatures.

They claim she has ‘decimated’ the school’s library and that her actions have caused seven members of staff to leave and parents to seek alternative schools for their children.

A separate petition has also been posted to remove the chair and vice-chair of the board of school governors, amid claims they are not listening to or acting upon parents’ concerns.

Mrs Shepherd has vowed to meet those with concerns but a statement, on behalf of the parents and posted on the petition website change.org by Catherine Keenan, said past meetings had proven useless.

The statement said: “In December, parents from St Margaret's published petitions to remove the school's headteacher, along with its Chair of Governors and Vice Chair.

“We did so as a last resort after it became clear the school was ignoring our concerns.

“In only four months, seven members of staff have handed in their notice, and more have privately indicated they plan to do so in the new year.

“A number of parents have submitted safeguarding concerns about the school, and many parents are now looking at transferring their children.

“When the first few staff left, we waited. When the library was decimated and all our cherished books lay in skips in the rain we were still prepared to give her a chance.

“And when the Diocese of Worcester launched an independent investigation into staff wellbeing and pastoral care, and together with the LEA, promised action would be taken, we waited and hoped for the best.

“But things have not changed, they've deteriorated. Enough is enough.

“As a voluntary controlled school, only governors have the power to remove a headteacher, and our petitions will be submitted on January 23 at a meeting organised by the Diocese.

“Once received, we'd urge the authorities involved to act, and save our school. If we lose any more staff and students, there will be nothing left to save.”

A host of comments supporting the petition have been posted online.

One said: “My friend’s grandchildren have become increasing(ly) unhappy about going to school since the arrival of this headteacher, to the extent that they are crying regularly before school in the mornings.”

Another added: “Staff are leaving in droves and some with no job to go to. This was a well-loved community school until September 2018.”

In response to the initial petition, headteacher Mrs Shepherd said: “We are aware that some parents have concerns about the recent changes made at our school.

“It is extremely important that we listen to the views of our families so that genuine concerns can be addressed.

“We are meeting with the local authority and the Diocese to move things forward and would like to invite all parents to meet with myself and the governors after this.

“It’s important that everyone – staff, parents, governors and of course the children – feel that they are playing a valuable role in making the St Margaret’s School community a happy, successful and inspiring place to be.”

But the parents’ statement retorted: “We have had many such meetings, including a 'Closed Forum' where we were told we could listen but not speak, and a series of other meetings where parents have asked the headteacher to change course.

“Mrs Shepherd does not need another meeting to hear our views: she can read the wealth of letters submitted to the Governors, Diocese and the LEA, and read the online complaints to OFSTED, where 84% of parents 'strongly disagree' with the statement 'This school is well led and managed'.

“The parents cannot be any clearer: we want the headteacher to step down, effective immediately.”

The Diocese is urging parents to attend next Wednesday night’s meeting.

Diocesan Director of Education, Margaret James, said: “The Worcester Diocesan Board of Education are fully aware of the concerns of the parents at Hasbury CE Primary and have been working closely with the Local Authority to ensure that everyone’s views can be heard.

“This is a difficult situation and there is a lot of hurt on all sides. It’s important that the right decisions are made for the future of the school community and this inevitably takes time.

“We hope that as many parents as possible will come along to our meeting on 23 January which gives an opportunity for concerns to be raised.”