Controversial principal again suspended for labor dispute due to personnel vote.


Marcella Armstrong was recommended by officials of the Archdiocese of Liverpool to take over the troubled Holy Spirit Primary School – although she had given up her former post at St. Margaret Mary’s Primary School in Huyton Catholic Church while suspended and under investigation.

A controversial principal was suspended from a second Catholic elementary school, where staff also voted for industrial action.

Marcella Armstrong was recommended by the Archdiocese of Liverpool, although she was under investigation at her former school.

ECHO believes that the staff voted for industrial action before Ms. Armstrong’s suspension, before a strike occurred.

According to sources who were aware of the situation, the complaint included “leadership concerns” and health and safety complaints, including lack of Covid-19 action.

Now the move appears to have ended in similar circumstances after a complaint was filed on behalf of a large number of school staff at Poulsom Drive, Bootle.

Archdiocesan officials have remained silent about the problems at the school, where Val Leatherbarrow, the chairperson of the governing body, has also resigned.

ECHO understands that an independent panel has been appointed to investigate the concerns raised by Holy Spirit staff and union officials and an announcement is due shortly.

The OFSTED inspectors had scolded Holy Spirit for “weak planning” and “low expectations of the students”.

In September of last year, Mrs. Leatherbarrow made a statement defending the appointment of Mrs. Armstrong after the school had been placed in special measures by the OFSTED watchdog.

Mrs. Leatherbarrow said at the time: “At the end of the last school year we received a very disappointing OFSTED report.

“Mrs. Armstrong was recommended to our governing body by the Archdiocese and brings a wealth of experience from running both good and excellent schools, which have received glowing OFSTED reports under her leadership.

“We have been very open to the findings of this report and remain determined to bring the Holy Spirit to the fore more strongly and better than before.

“Her last school was in the top 10% for math and the top 20% for literacy nationwide.

“While we are not in a position to comment on allegations made against Ms. Armstrong in her previous roles, we would never make a decision that would have a negative impact on staff or students.

“As we look to the future for Holy Spirit, the school needs a leader who can ensure the best possible education for our students. We strongly believe that by working closely with Ms. Armstrong, staff and principals, we can achieve positive results for all staff and students.

Holy Spirit employees who wanted to remain anonymous said Ms. Armstrong had not been seen at school since the end of the summer vacation.

Ms. Armstrong was the subject of an investigation when she left St. Margaret Mary’s in January of last year after being suspended in September of the previous year.

“Both the Archdiocese and the Board of Governors of the school are confident in their decision to hire Ms. Armstrong and believe that her track record in teaching and learning makes her the right person to help the school move forward.


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