ENTIRE year groups were sent home from school due to staff shortages.

Winsford Academy closed to pupils in year eight and year nine pupils in recent days, with students being given work to complete online at home.

The school made this decision amid “significant and unexpected” levels of staff absence, with an “unusually high” number of staff suffering with viral winter illnesses, including Covid-19.

This has prompted parents and councillors to demand change.

One such concerned parent is Rebecca Heatley, who received a call from the school at 8.20am on Monday (December 4) to inform her that her daughter’s year would be closed for the day.

She said: "As a parent I am extremely concerned about the high percentage of supply teachers used in the school and lack of teaching staff.

“I believe the school is in crisis and as a result is failing the children of Winsford.

“This is no reflection on the teaching staff that are going above and beyond under immense pressure.

“When children are being turned away at the door and denied education, something somewhere is going drastically wrong.

“Parents, teachers, the headteacher and the trust have got to work together to get this school back on track.”

The closure to year eight on Monday followed an indetical situation for year nine on Friday (December 1).

This week, councillor Nathan Pardoe wrote to the school's acting principal and the CEO of the Fallibroome Trust.

He said: “Concerns have been raised by parents about the closures, and public commentary refers to persistent issues with behaviour, leadership, safety and staffing in the school.

“I understand that teaching is a challenging profession, and do not doubt that teaching and support staff at The Winsford Academy are doing all they can to deliver for Winsford children. That said, | am worried that the recent closures could be symptoms of more fundamental issues at The Winsford Academy.”

A spokesperson for the school and trust said they are now working “urgently” to avoid this happening again.

Winsford Academy is working with The Fallibroome Trust to urgently address the ongoing challenges of staff recruitment and retention that have contributed to this situation and is an issue for many other schools locally and around the country,” they said.

“We are actively in the process of recruiting additional staff members on both permanent and casual contracts, and are working on further innovative solutions to ensure that a fully operational and safe learning environment is maintained at all times.”

The spokesperson added: “All options for cover were explored from within the school and from the wider network of staff available to schools in the area.

“However, we were unable to bring in sufficient staffing and the decision was taken to send students home with set online work.

“We understand this will have caused inconvenience, challenges and upset to the parents, carers and young people concerned, and we have apologised for the disruption to them.

“On the affected days school continued to run safely for all other year groups and staff, with the process followed similar to other types of unforeseen circumstances such as failed heating systems or water supply issues.

“We ensured that our most vulnerable pupils in years eight and nine remained in school on the affected days, receiving appropriate levels of supervision.”