Templeogue College’s board of management has said the school stands “against discrimination and prejudice in all its forms” and is committed to addressing complaints made by staff members.
It emerged this week that nearly all staff at the Spiritan-run secondary school in south Dublin had described the workplace atmosphere as “toxic” in interviews with a mediator aimed at resolving staff tensions.
The all-boys secondary school has been at the centre of grievances aired at the Workplace Relations Commission as well as concerns about a “non-inclusive culture” regarding LGBT issues and the taking down of a Pride flag in the school canteen.
In a message to parents following a meeting on Friday, the board said it has been working with the principal, deputy principal and staff to ensure that “concerns or complaints raised by members of staff are fully addressed”.
It said it was disappointing that initial feedback from a confidential mediation process had been shared in public.
However, despite the “breach of trust”, it said the facilitator remains determined to help work towards resolution”.
It said it wanted to “clarify without ambiguity” that Templeogue College is a place where “staff and students are highly valued and enjoy coming to school”.
“We are conscious that some staff have not shared this feeling recently and have raised issues with us that they want to have addressed. As is the case with all Spiritan schools, we promote the values of inclusion, diversity and respect and we stand against discrimination and prejudice in all its forms,” the board said.
“As demonstrated by the artwork on our walls, our school videos and our social media posts, we are an inclusive community where kindness and respect guide us all to be the best we can be. We look forward to continuing our work with our students and our staff in learning about and celebrating each and every individual in our school community.”
Meanwhile, the board is understood to have received a fresh complaint from staff representatives that the school “is at breaking point” and is an “unsafe working environment”.
The comments are contained in a letter, from the school’s elected safety representative and Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) school steward, which was sent to the board this week.
“We are deeply concerned for the health, safety and welfare of our colleagues,” the letter states.
It states that “urgent issues need to be resolved immediately” and that “staff in our school do not have the luxury of waiting months for an informal, voluntary process to conclude; rather, immediate, swift action need to be taken as a going concern”.
The staff comments in the draft mediator’s report were the subject of Dáil questions earlier this week.
The report, circulated to staff and management recently, stated that many staff felt a turnover of staff at the school was indicative of a “toxic” culture, and for others was a sign of “clash of cultures” between leadership and core staff.
It stated: “Many feel fearful of who to be associated with – who to talk to and who not ... it is hard for many to stay apart from ‘taking sides’.”
The report noted that for a “good number it cannot be underestimated how traumatic they experience their working environment and how it impacts their personal lives,” while “a number are actively considering leaving as the only way to protect themselves from the impact”.
The report also highlights the extent to which these issues have affected school life.
“So many feel that the focus on the students is being lost – that is where we could be at out best,” it notes.
The report says that for a number of staff, there is “great gratitude to the principal for her leadership, support, educational direction and energy”, while the “mutual support within groups of staff for each other is highly prized”.
However, there is a “strong sense” among some that issues are intractable.