Bonhill PS

Community stunned as head teacher departs award-winning school

Maria Seery, Laura Mason and Laura Douglas.

By Bill Heaney

The head teacher of Bonhill Primary School in Alexandria has left her post after a row about the use of disabled car parking spaces in the school grounds.

Asked to comment about the “resignation” of Ms Maria Seery, West Dunbartonshire Council has not yet responded to The Dumbarton Democrat’s request for a reaction to what has happened.

It seems likely however that the education director Laura Mason will decline to comment since it’s not the council’s practice to discuss individual cases when it comes to HR or personnel matters.

The first inkling that there was a problem at the award-winning school came on social media when parent Laura Douglas posted this:

“So, yet again there are two cars within the disabled bays at Bonhill Primary school. They still have no blue badges displayed…

“What gives this head teacher the right to allow her staff to use these bays over the disabled children she has under her care?”

She then alleged: “This woman [the head teacher] is discriminating against certain children or parents. As when it suited her children from the school could use it but now they can’t.  One rule for one, one rule for another. But only if your face fits.”

Bonhill was stunned and saddened at this since the high profile school has a reputation for excellent community involvement.

A revolutionary project which meets within the school and is designed to help integrate the community won a national honour.

Fastworks was recently named Community Champion UK, having been put forward for the award by Save the Children.

Ms Seery and a representative from the group went through to Murrayfield in Edinburgh where Princess Anne presented them with the award.

Fastworks had been running in the school for three years and, run by volunteers.

Its aim is to help children and families communicate better “regardless of what their backgrounds are”.

The organisation concentrates on families who are in poverty or socially isolated and need help, meets regularly in the school and organises trips.

It is funded through a variety of sources including the National Lottery and Cash for Kids.

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Bonhill Primary School.

Ms Seery is said to have been “heavily involved in the Fastworks programme and gives space in the school for free for the group’s regular meetings”.

Bonhill also became one of the first schools in Scotland to gain the status of Digital School for excellence in digital technology in teaching and learning.

They were one of 21 primary schools officially awarded the honour Digital Schools in Scotland by the minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Ms Seery was quoted in a local; newspaper at that time as saying: “I am delighted and very proud of the school’s achievement. It is not only a coup for the school but also a coup for West Dunbartonshire Council as we are amongst the first 21 schools to gain the award nationally.”

However, it would appear that all has not been well at Bonhill Primary School for some time.

The Rev Ian Miller, who officially opened the new school after the previous building was burnt down by vandals, said: “Almost 40 years of involvement with Bonhill School had “just stuttered away to nothing” – “the once very strong and mutually supportive connection [between the school] and Bonhill Church is now very fragile”.

Parent Laura Douglas declined to comment in detail about the rift between the parents and the head teacher.

She said: “It’s been an awful week and myself and another parent are extremely upset at the accusations that have been made.”

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