Abronhill high staff morale "shockingly low" as pupils pack for move

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 22:33 on 17 June 2014.
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ONE member of staff at the soon-to-be demolished Abronhill high school has told Cumbernauld Media that staff morale is at a "shocking low", due to the upcoming merger with Cumbernauld high school.

Speaking to Cumbernauld Media, a teacher at Abronhill high school, who we are not naming for their protection, said staff morale was at a record low.

"A year ago you could enter the staff room and see the room as being very crowded, with a lively and friendly atmosphere," the teacher told us.

"Nowadays though, there are only around five members of staff in the lounge and morale is shockingly low within the school.

"The hierarchy click are mainly responsible; staff feel scared to speak out and let down. The staff don't believe in the 'values' being talked about by the management team - it's a sad time."

The situation at Abronhill high school has prompted our source to leave the school and pursue career options elsewhere.

"It's a sorry state of affairs," they told us. "I've given up my job, despite being offered a transfer to 'Cumbernauld Academy'. I just don't believe what's being said; neither the staff or pupils are happy with the situation."

"I don't like the teaching style of some of the staff members at Cumbernauld high school either - some of who simply can't teach," the teacher added.

Pupils from Abronhill high school will transfer to Cumbernauld high school this August, when the newly merged school campus will become 'Cumbernauld Academy'.

Ahead of the merger, a number of 'transition' events have been held at Cumbernauld high school, in Kildrum, so that pupils coming to the school in summer from Abronhill high understand how the new school looks and feels.

At present, however, pupils at Abronhill high school are "packing" rather than learning, according to our source.

"Pupils at Abronhill high school are simply packing boxes for the move - they aren't teaching in most departments," the teacher told us.

"In my case, I've had to stop teaching my kids, everything I need has to be prepared for transit which means I cannot teach my classes at the moment."

Details of the new 'Cumbernauld Academy' have been slowly confirmed over the past month - details including the new school's badge, campus layout, tie design and timetable.

The school tie was the first detail to be unveiled.

Announced on May 13th, the new tartan tie will be worn by pupils in first, second, third and fourth years, whilst seniors will have their own tie design.

On May 14th, the new school badge was unveiled by Mark Cairns, the school's head teacher.

The new "embroidered badge for Cumbernauld Academy... came from a project involving pupils from both secondary schools and all 5 partner primaries," Mr Cairns said at the time.

"The pupils voted on the results of the project and a graphic artist is now working on the final image that will be used in branding Cumbernauld Academy."

Announcing the design, Mr Cairns confirmed that the school's new blazer will be produced by Baru, in Kirkintilloch, with orders now being taken.

Finally, last Tuesday (10th June), the Cumbernauld Academy blazer and tie design for senior pupils was announced via the school's page on micro-blogging website, Twitter.

The senior tie design features the Academy's badge logo set on a purple coloured fabric. The blazer is black with purple trimming around the collar with an embroidered badge of the Academy on the left breast of the jacket, under the pocket.

Despite the new designs being unveiled, our source at Abronhill high school says that cohesion will not coming easily.

"It will take years before things properly settle down. I pity the quiet pupils, who could simply get left behind in the merger," the teacher told us.

"The whole situation is disgraceful - I've been I'll with it at some points, and so have other members of staff."

The latest events in the saga to merge Abronhill high and Cumbernauld high school comes after a drawn-out, and - at times – bitter battle between local residents, council officers and local politicians to secure the school which starred in the movie Gregory’s Girl.

The council had agreed on February 6th 2013 to close Abronhill High School and move staff and pupils from the school to Cumbernauld High School, in Kildrum, where a new school campus to replace the aging ‘Cumbernauld High School’ campus is promised for the future. 

Campaigners from the Save Abronhill High School group then proceeded to take the council’s decision to the Scottish Government, who called in the authority’s plans for inspection, but concluded that the merger should be allowed to go ahead, despite concerns over pupil safety, transport issues and economic and social harm to Abronhill, where some half of the Shopping Centre’s footfall comes from high school pupils.

After Scottish Ministers approved the council’s plans, the Save Abronhill High School Working Group said that they, and the community felt “disappointed”, adding that the Scottish Government had “…listened to the community and pupil’s core concerns which justifies the our coming together to challenge this very poorly consulted exercise by North Lanarkshire Council.” 

North Lanarkshire Council, however, stood firm and said they were “100% confident” in their plans, with Cllr Logue – Convenor of the authority’s Learning and Leisure Services committee – telling the media: “North Lanarkshire Council has an outstanding track record in managing the transition of pupils to new schools, as noted in a number of HMIe reports.”

Legal action was the last weapon left in the Working Group’s arsenal, although the group dropped threats of taking North Lanarkshire Council to the High Court, in December 2013; with a spokesman for the group telling the press: “Our campaign has demonstrated that community activism and pride is still very much alive in Abronhill, and that support has helped to expose the rotten, backward political structure of North Lanarkshire Council, and the inability of Cumbernauld’s Labour councillors to side with local residents instead of the Labour party whip."

Then, in April this year, North Lanarkshire Council tendered the contract for the demolition of Abronhill high school.

The contract was confirmed as having an approximate value of £400,000, with the successful bidder having to demolish the "...brick built school having a flat roof, varying from one to three storeys and having a footprint of approximately 5500 m2.”

On July 7th the council will announce the successful bidder, and the school's demolition will begin shortly thereafter, meaning that Abronhill high school could be torn down by Christmas.
 
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