Strong support for principal

He had been stood down after an Education Department investigation resulted in a finding that he had used excessive force on students.

Department director-general Sharyn O’Neill said the report referred to incidents of late 2011 and earlier this year and the ‘excessive force’ had included restraining students on the ground or with arms behind their backs.

Ms O’Neill said teachers and principals could use physical restraint as a last resort to protect themselves, the student or others from harm, or in some circumstances to prevent damage to property but the investigation had found there was no such threat in these cases.

‘The principal not only instigated unwarranted physical restraint to manage their behaviour, but used a level of force that put the students’ safety and wellbeing at risk,’ Ms O’Neill said.

‘It is therefore particularly disappointing when a principal, who should be leading by example, behaves in this unacceptable manner.’

The school’s P&C committee president Hailey Shepherd said she was disappointed by the Education Department’s decision having had only ‘fantastic dealings’ with Mr Lockwood.

‘I’m sad he is gone; he was a fantastic teacher and principal and will be missed by all of us,’ Ms Shepherd said.

Committee vice-president Sentara-Lea Chellen echoed Ms Shepherd’s sentiments, adding she would be looking at other options for her children’s education.

‘I’m outraged by what’s happened, I love Nollamara Primary and have put so much of my time into this school so for me to walk away, it’s a huge thing for my family and I,’ she said.

Acting principal Peter Jakimowiez, who took on the caretaker principal role in May, said a number of parents had approached him expressing their support for the school but he had not received any backlash since Mr Lockwood’s departure.

‘Many are keen to be part of a new Parents and Citizens Association to take the school in a new direction, focused on exemplary behaviour, values and expectations,’ Mr Jakimowiecz said.

‘While I acknowledge it has been a difficult period for the community, not a single parent has approached me indicating they intend to remove their child from the school following the leadership change,’ he said.

‘However it is the right of any parent to seek another school for their child if that is their wish.’

Another showing his support for Mr Lockwood was Gracelife Church Pastor Bob Stevenson who started a petition calling for the return of the former principal.

Pastor Stevenson said he was shocked by the decision having worked closely with the school and Mr Lockwood for five years.

‘The support these children have had since Steve Lockwood has been running the school has been nothing short of extraordinary,’ he said.

‘He had a vision for the school and went over and above the requirements -the improvement at the school has been dramatic.’

Edith Cowan University School of Education senior lecturer Dr Matt Byrne said creating a positive learning environment in the classroom was one of the most effective methods of addressing bad behaviour and parents and schools needed to work together in supporting children with relevant and meaningful consequences.

Fact box:
– The investigation upheld four of five separate allegations against the principal.
– Reinstate Steve Lockwood Facebook page has been set up with 121 followers
– Gracelife Church leader Bob Stevenson set up a petition calling for the return of Mr Lockwood to the school
– Four members of the Parents and Citizens committee including the President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary have resigned their positions
– Mr Lockwood will be transferred to another school