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Schools row deepens as senior teachers expose rift with GTA

Senior teachers from several of Gibraltar’s schools have disassociated themselves from statements made by the Gibraltar Teachers’ Association about the Gibraltar Government’s school refurbishment programme.

They were responding to comments made by GTA president Victor Gonzalez, who told this newspaper earlier this week that staff at Westside Comprehensive School, Governor’s Meadow, Bishop Fitzgerald and St Martin’s were unhappy with the government’s plans for new schools.

But in a joint statement, the senior leadership teams from those four schools, backed too by senior colleagues from Bayside Comprehensive School, said Mr Gonzalez’s statements were “misleading”, adding that the process of consultation with teachers was “well under way”.

And in a related development, two senior managers from Notre Dame First School have resigned from the teachers’ union over statements made by the “GTA unelected president”.

“We feel that recent press releases have been unfounded since they are not a true representation of the sentiment of teachers,” Mrs J. Mason and Mrs P. Cruz said in a statement.

The two teachers also “…take umbrage at our school being mentioned as having been consulted on classroom temperature when no GTA representative has officially approached us.”

They said they would now seek union representation elsewhere.

The fallout arising from the GTA’s recent public statements has pitched senior managers from some of Gibraltar’s key schools against the union’s leadership.

The rift comes a day after the Gibraltar Government also hit back at the GTA’s claims that teachers had not been consulted on the new schools.

But it follows too publication by independent MP Lawrence Llamas of preliminary findings of a survey he is conducting that suggests two thirds of respondents believe the government is rushing its schools’ project.

Yesterday senior teachers from Westside and Bayside comprehensive schools, Governor’s Meadow, Bishop Fitzgerald and St Martin’s made clear that they did not subscribe to the GTA’s view that the government was not listening to teachers as it embarked on its so-called “schools revolution”.

“To date, our schools, depending on the planning stage of each one, have had a number of meetings with the DoE, including the Minister of Education, and have been promised ongoing consultation throughout the different stages of the planning process,” they said in the joint statement.

“The GTA has misrepresented us in these statements and has not had the courtesy to consult the senior leadership teams of these schools before going to press, in order to inform themselves of the stages each school is currently at.”

“This is a very important time for the future of teaching and learning in our schools.”

“As educators we eagerly look forward to this new chapter in the history of education in Gibraltar where trust, partnership, teamwork and open dialogue will work positively for all our present and future pupils.”

Likewise the two senior managers at Notre Dame First School left no doubt as to the depth of their objections the GTA’s position.

“Mostly we are saddened and have lost trust in a leadership that has not been seen to comment on all the hard work and endeavours of our most professional staff both in our school and at the Department of Education who are working tirelessly to ensure the delivery of quality teaching and learning, be it in a building full of history and tradition or our eagerly anticipated 21st Century school,” they said.

“We both feel that the GTA should be concentrating on publicly celebrating members’ and children’s success and hard work as well as forming a positive integral part of the consultation process in all areas of education during these exciting times when we look forward to co-education, the realignment of key stages and new nurseries being set up in our new school next year.”

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