Troubled Liverpool catholic high school appoints new head

A Liverpool high school that was forced to close after staff walked out over pupil behaviour has welcomed a new principal.

It was announced in February this year that Stephen Morris would leave his post as the head of St Edward’s College in West Derby. The school insisted this was a personal decision but it came against a backdrop of difficulties for the Catholic facility.

A week on from a series of walkouts by National Education Union members over pupil behaviour, St Edward’s has confirmed Lee Fabia will take up the role of principal from September 1.

Last month, union officials confirmed around 60 of its members would take industrial action after “negotiations broke down in a trade dispute centred around pupil behaviour.” In a letter to parents, the school said it had met with officials many times over the previous term “to provide action and reassurance about various issues, including behaviour, equipment for teaching and directed time.”

This came two months after Mr Morris announced he would be leaving St Edwards at the end of this summer term. In a statement, a school spokesperson said it had been a personal matter considered “for some months” with governors before a decision was finally reached.

His intention to resign came amid an Ofsted report in November 2022 in which education officials called on school leaders to improve. The wide ranging assessment found that “some older pupils do not feel able to discuss concerns about homophobia or sexual harassment with adults.

“Leaders have not created a culture that enables all pupils and staff to feel confident in discussing concerns about the protected characteristics. As a result, some pupils continue to experience verbal abuse.”

It added how some pupils have experienced “derogatory and discriminatory language” in school and have not felt able to talk to staff about such incidents “and the impact of this discriminatory behaviour on their mental health and well-being.”

St Edward’s, which describes itself as having an “explicitly Catholic culture” and is part of the Archdiocese of Liverpool has around 1,100 pupils aged between 11-16 on the roll. It converted to become an academy in May 2011 and when its predecessor school was last inspected, it was judged to be outstanding overall.

Incoming head Mr Fabia will join the school from Cardinal Heenan Catholic College where he is currently deputy headteacher. John O’Brien, chair of governors at St Edward’s, said, “Mr Fabia’s passion for teaching and learning, combined with creating an environment for positive behaviour and attitudes to learning, set him apart from other candidates.

“The governors believe that in appointing Mr Fabia they have a principal who will bring a clear sense of purpose and vision grounded in his catholic faith that will maximise the opportunities arising from being the only catholic secondary cathedral choir school in England and a member of the Edmund Rice family of schools.”

Mr Fabia added, “My vision for St Edward’s will be characterised by our catholic faith and strength as a catholic community, an exceptional curriculum, high aspiration for academic excellence and exemplary behaviour, with a strong culture of care, encouragement and reward where all pupils feel safe and valued.”

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