By: ELOISE WALTON
A POPULAR British nursery teacher at the International School of São Lourenço (ISSL) in Almancil has had to leave after 17 years service because her qualifications are not recognised by Portugal’s Ministry of Education.
A reader, who asked not to be named, told The Resident that the teacher, Lesley Stephens, had been dismissed one week before the Christmas holidays because the school was told that her qualification, a nursery infant (foundation) teaching correspondence diploma from the London Montessori Centre from 1987, was not considered valid by the Ministry of Education.
Terry McGuire, ISSL’s head teacher, told The Resident in a statement: “In a continuing effort to improve the standard of education at the International School of São Lourenço (ISSL) and with regard to continuing to meet the requirements demanded by the Minister of Education for Portugal on teaching standards, ISSL can confirm the unfortunate loss of Ms Lesley Stephens from our teaching staff.”
This statement went on to say: “In a recent review of teachers held by the school, it became clear that the teacher did not possess the necessary prescribed teaching qualifications.
“The conviction of the board of governors has always been that the teacher is entitled to full compensation with respect to her position and years of service. The teacher agreed to the severance package offered and left the school in a timeframe suitable to her and the school.”
The statement also said that the school’s board of governors and head teacher will always ensure full compliance with Portuguese law and the maintenance of high standards of education.
The Resident tried to contact the Ministry of Education but at the time of going to press, no one was available for a comment about this situation.
In an open letter to the school board, one parent said they felt “disbelief first and outrage later” after learning that Lesley Stephens had “been fired with a week’s notice.”
The letter went on to describe Lesley Stephens as “one of the pillars to this school for 17 years” and her work at the school as “an inspiration to hundreds of pupils.”
The Resident also received a letter signed by several members of the school’s staff in response to the head teacher’s announcement that Lesley Stephens was leaving. “We are shocked at the suddenness of the situation,” they said in the letter. “We very much regret the urgency of this action and the manner in which it was carried out.”
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