A PARENT of a pupil at a Rhyl school in special measures said they are one of many to be upset by news that its head has stood down following a 10-month absence period.

Amanda Preston, who was headteacher of Christ the Word Catholic School on Cefndy Road, has now left her role, Denbighshire County Council confirmed on September 18.

She had been absent from the school since last November, as well as its deputy head at the time, Joe White.

Bernadette Thomas has been appointed as the school’s acting head since then.

The parent, who asked not to be named, criticised the school’s perceived lack of dialogue, adding that Mrs Preston had fostered a “caring and nurturing feeling” at Christ the Word.


Head of Rhyl school in special measures resigns following absence

Rhyl school's head and deputy absent since November, council confirms

“Lots of parents are very unhappy with the school and deeply saddened by this news; many of us had hoped Mrs Preston would return,” the parent told the Journal.

“The school state they communicate, however it is a weekly copy and paste of timetabled events in school.

“There is nothing regarding the day-to-day experiences, achievements, life and improvements within the school. There is nothing personal.

“The community, caring and nurturing feeling within the school that Mrs Preston instilled has been lost.”

Christ the Word was put in special measures following an Estyn report published in July 2022, after an inspection took place the previous May.

Since entering special measures, it has appointed a new member to its governing body, specifically to address safeguarding concerns.

But the parent added that efforts to address the recommendations made by Estyn could have proved more effective had Mrs Preston remained.

Her departure has caused “the heart of the school” to be lost, they said.

The parent added: “Parents wholly accept improvements in the learning and leadership were necessary as per the Estyn report.

“But the majority feel it would have been delivered a lot more effectively had the head returned and without losing the heart of the school.

“We are told there are improvements; however, we are not told what these improvements are, how they will improve things and any real data on how the school is moving from special measures and a timescale.

“It appears that we should simply accept improvements are occurring simply because we are told so. Yet 12 months on, there is no real evidence of this and, much (evidence) from our children, and the departure of key governors and staff, suggests it hasn't.”

The parent added that staff upheaval during the 2022-23 academic year caused the school’s Year 11 pupils, while preparing for their GCSE exams, to become “collateral damage”.

Ms Thomas said she was “extremely pleased” with the school’s GCSE results last month, which included multiple students earning only “A*” or “A” grades.

But the parent said: “They did not do work experience, some mocks were not sat because they hadn't yet been taught the work to complete them, many of the rewards were not run, and pupil leadership roles were there in title only and not utilised.

“Had it not been for some teachers stepping up to make certain things happen and make memories over their last couple of weeks, nothing would have been in place, and the children would have left demoralised.

“Last year, Denbighshire County Council wanted answers as to how the Estyn report could have been so bad, yet the education department was involved with the school and was working with it on the same areas of improvement.

“For the council to plead ignorance is incorrect.

“Many parents also feel the council’s secrecy surrounding the head and deputy head’s departures fuelled unfair rumours, damaging reputations.

“The whole inadequate handling and lack of accountability of the situation has led to the school being in a far worse position for the children, and potentially career-ending for the head - we have yet to hear about the deputy head.”

When contacted by the Journal earlier this week, neither Denbighshire County Council nor Christ the Word could provide an update on Mr White, the absent deputy head.

A Denbighshire County Council spokesperson said on September 18: “Mrs Preston has tendered her resignation and it has been accepted by the chair of governors.

“Mr John Droog was elected as the new chair of governors.

“In every school, the governing body work to fill vacancies in line with recruitment policies. Christ the Word will be no different.”

In response to the parent’s comments, the council added: “The council have nothing further to add following the statement made on September 18 regarding Christ the Word.”

The £23million school opened in September 2019 and caters for children between three and 16 years old.

It replaced secondary school, Blessed Edward Jones Catholic School, and primary school, Ysgol Mair.