'Negative rumours' about Alness Academy staff absence untrue says Highland education chief as new plans for school revealed
A SENIOR Highland council official has moved to reject "negative rumours" circulating about an Easter Ross head teacher not currently at work.
Alness Academy has been in a state of flux for the past week after it emerged that Highland Council planned putting a new leadership team in place.
It has emerged that a senior depute head at another Ross-shire school has now been seconded to the Easter Ross secondary as acting head.
I believe that there are negative rumours circulating in the community and I need to emphasise that these are based on false information and are untrue. - Nicky Grant
Highland Council's executive chief officer for education and learning Nicky Grant, herself a former head at the school, said following a parent meeting at the school last night: "Following on from my letter that was issued last week, I can now provide some further information regarding the leadership team within Alness Academy.
"As you may be aware, [head teacher] Mr [Craig] Paterson is currently not at work. I believe that there are negative rumours circulating in the community and I need to emphasise that these are based on false information and are untrue.
"Mr Tom Magowan has been placed in post as acting head teacher to lead the school; he has been seconded from his post as depute head teacher at Fortrose Academy and was previously acting head teacher at Grantown Grammar.
"He is being supported by the senior management team which has been strengthened with existing experienced staff Les MacKay and Deirdre Murray.
"A positive meeting was held with parents and elected members at the school on Wednesday evening to provide an update.
"I hope as parents and carers you will join us in supporting the school moving forward."
The school's most recently appointed head teacher is Craig Paterson who was appointed in January 2021.
At the time if his appointment, education chairman John Finlayson said: “I would like to congratulate Craig Paterson on his new role as head teacher for Alness Academy. This is a new beginning for the school community as they enter this year with a new building and head teacher to lead and support them through their education experience. I wish him every success in his new role.”
Mr Paterson previously worked as a depute head teacher at Inverurie Academy in Aberdeenshire.
His most recent role was working as a lead officer for secondary curriculum for the Northern Alliance.
He is also a history teacher.
On his appointment in January 2021, he said: "I am absolutely delighted to be taking up a post with the Highland Council. I am deeply honoured to be given the opportunity of leading Alness Academy and wish to thank students, staff, parents and the community for the messages of welcome I have received."
Last week, this paper was contacted by pupils who voiced their concerns about the lack of teaching staff in the school – particularly pressing for those who are preparing for important higher examinations.
Some have said that they have essentially been left to teach themselves at times.
Highland Council told the Ross-shire Journal it could not comment on personnel matters.