More than a hundred teachers and parents from British school St George’s, located in the Malaga district of Cerrado de Calderón, gathered outside the school on Friday morning, a day after seven members of staff were dismissed for reasons they believe are “unconvincing”.
The six teachers and one psychologist, who are among the longest serving staff members, were informed of their dismissal the day before the end of term.
In an email sent to parents and staff, the school management explained that they were “restructuring” in order to “improve the quality of teaching we provide”.
Angered by this loss of, in the words of one parent, “nearly sixty years of teaching experience”, the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) signed a letter expressing concern over the school’s practices, demanding that an urgent meeting be held with the school’s directors within a week, otherwise fees for the first month of the next academic year would not be paid. A statement from the PTA read: “These staff members have been dismissed on very questionable grounds. We are certain the school will not be the same without them and that their absence will lead to a lower educational standard.”
The seven dismissed employees are Jim Riley, Head of History and KS4 coordinator; Alex Mitchell, Head of Science; María de la Cruz, A-level teacher; Araceli Gormati, reception teacher; Kirsty Ridyard, science teacher, Sixth Form and UCAS coordinator; Wendy Woods, support staff; and Remedios Aranda, psychologist. Gormati, Ridyard, Aranda and Woods were at the gathering and explained that they were informed of the news by email.
Since the news broke, a petition calling for their immediate readmission on Change.org has gathered more than 1,300 signatures, while a Facebook group called ‘Support for St George’s Teachers’ has been gathering messages of support and testimonies that they hope can be used to support any legal case for overturning the decisions.
Former student Shona Allerton, who set up the group, said: “I’m not surprised by the amount of support as they are truly great teachers. We will be with them every step of the way.”
SUR was finally able to contact the school's owner, Noelia Espinedo, on Thursday, after the week's deadline from the Parents and Teachers Association had passed. However, she refused to comment on the dismissals nor whether the staff would be replaced. She said she would meet with the association, but refused to say when.
The PTA, for their part, say that they will are looking into reporting the school to the Junta de Andalucía regional government's Education council.