‘No deal’: St Aloysius College could see more protests this week after talks with teachers ‘broke down’

Students protesting outside St Aloysius College. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Students protesting outside St Aloysius College. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey - Credit: Archant

Further protests at St Aloysius College may be in the pipeline this week after talks between senior managers and student protests “broke down” and “no deal was achieved”, a spokesperson has vowed.

Students protesting outside St Aloysius College this morning. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Students protesting outside St Aloysius College this morning. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey - Credit: Archant

Up to 100 young people protested for more than four hours outside the school gates, in Hornsey Lane, as they demanded the Archway school’s executive headteacher Jane Heffernan meet their demands.

These included an immediate end to the alleged humiliation of staff in front of students, which the protestors argue has led to an exodus of their long-standing and respected teachers. The school says most have left because they retired or were promoted.

A delegation of students was eventually selected to meet Ms Heffernan and senior staff members – but Sonny Elton, one of the group’s de facto representatives, said he wasn’t allowed to parlay with school chiefs because of tweets he’d sent out.

Sonny told the Gazette that due to student delegates being “intimidated” during their meeting, “no deal was struck and nothing was achieved”.

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He added: “It may result in another protest or it may result in other means of negotiations.

“I would say it won’t happen tomorrow but anything after Wednesday is possible.”

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New management and governors were brought in following the departure of long-standing head Tom Mannion last year. He was dismissed after being arrested as part of a fraud probe, but later fully cleared. Twenty staff followed him out of the schoo. Students from Years 10 to 13 organised the protest against Ms Heffernan for her “mistreatment of original St Aloysius staff and students”.

A typed list of demands from the students states: “We have had enough of the treatment of staff and students under the new management.

“It is humiliating to see staff being talked down at in front of students – it is demoralising.

“We have lost too many good teachers due to mistreatment and [there have been] too many unreasonable decisions imposed.

“You have actually made us reach the point where we feel right to protest for the sake of our school and education.

“We have our exams soon and should be focusing on that.

“But here we are – we are that desperate for you to change your ways.

“We actually want our teachers when our exams come about – so stop driving them away.

“So know that we’ll protest if things do not change and until management listen to their school.

“Those who do not follow the protest correctly do not represent all of us.

“We want to find a fair peaceful solution after today.”

Ms Heffernan told the Gazette at the picket line this morning: “We have invited a delegation to come in and talk about what it’s about.

“Exclusions are very low here.”

She added: “I’m quite happy to have a conversation about this but this is not the appropriate place to have one.”

She also said the “safety of our young people” is the school’s top priority.

The protest follows an Ofsted report from November that found the school “requires improvement”. Inspectors said teaching had “not been good enough to ensure pupils make strong progress across subjects” and “teachers do not routinely plan activities that meet pupils’ needs”.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster, which runs the school, has been approached for a fuller response to the students’ allegations.

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