Teachers at a Whitehaven school are balloting for strike action amid claims of a "toxic" atmosphere.

National Education Union (NEU) members at St Benedict's Catholic High School could walk out after an indicative ballot revealed 96 per cent of members, from a 92 per cent turnout, were in favour of striking.

A survey, carried out by the union, revealed concerns are widespread among its 66 members.

The concerns include a "toxic atmosphere" in the school, with worries over "a culture of fear and intimidation".

Members have called for the suspension of headteacher Ian Smith while an investigation takes place.

However, the Whitehaven News understands Mr Smith has not been suspended but an investigation, carried out by the Diocese of Lancaster Education Service, will begin in September.

The union says it has shared the findings of the survey with the vice chair of the school's governors, the Diocese of Lancaster Education Service, the Bishop of Lancaster and Cumbria County Council.

NEU regional officer Paul Noble called the survey results "truly shocking".

He said: "We are disappointed the headteacher has not been suspended despite sharing the findings of the audit with the vice chair of governors, the diocese education service and the Bishop of Lancaster over three weeks ago.

"The union has offered a number of opportunities to meet with the vice chair of governors, the diocese education service and the local authority to discuss our concerns.

"For the benefit of the students, staff and the community, we hope to be able to avoid taking strike action."

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said the authority cannot comment on the issue as it is an ongoing process.

The Whitehaven News has contacted all parties involved on several occasions but has yet to receive a response.