‘Lessons to be learnt’ after school loses employment tribunal

THE CHAIR of governors at John Kyrle High School has admitted that there are lessons to be learnt after the school lost at an employment tribunal.

The tribunal held at Birmingham found that the school had unfairly dismissed Mrs J Lucas on March 31, 2017, for gross misconduct.

Mrs Lucas was director of performance and head of drama at the time of her dismissal.

The school argued that Mrs Lucas had ‘wilfully neglected her duties by failing to prepare students adequately for Summer 2016 GCSE, AS and A2 level exams’.

John Kyrle also claimed that Mrs Lucas had been misleading over predicted grades and falsified data on a performance management review.

Mrs Lucas argued that the reasons for her dismissal were ‘sham reasons’.

She accepted that students’ grades in drama at GCSE, AS and A2 level were ‘disappointing’.

However, Mrs Lucas argued that an initially undiagnosed medical condition impacted on her ability to teach.

She said that she requested assistance with her duties, which was not provided.

John Kyrle High School said that it was unaware of the nature of her condition, or that her ability to teach was being impacted.

The tribunal found that all claims of discrimination arising from disability were well founded and succeed.

Also failure to make reasonable adjustments were also well founded and succeed.

Mrs Lucas also argued that the school was motivated to dismiss her out of an ‘animus towards her trade union activities.’

These claims were also considered to be well founded and succeed.

In response to the findings Chair of Governors, Denise Strutt said: “We make no apology for continually trying to get the very best for our pupils.

“Ensuring they are happy and successful is the reason why we do what we do.

“We are, however, deeply saddened that the tribunal concluded that the actions taken against this teacher were not conducted in a way that reflects the ethos and values of our school and found in the individual’s favour on a number of points.

“This includes views that the individual was treated detrimentally because of their links to trade unions and that the school did not do enough to support the staff member concerned with their health issues.

“A disciplinary process is something that is led by governors with input from the senior leadership team and there was extensive advice from both external lawyers and HR specialists.

“We followed all advice closely and, as a result, our insurers felt our case was strong. The tribunal, however, disagreed.

“While no details are yet to be agreed, we want to assure parents of two things. Firstly, the school has insurance in place in case of this outcome.

“Secondly, while there are clearly lessons to be learned, I want to reassure parents that, despite the failings in this individual case, our staff are happy at the school.”

Mrs Strutt also highlighted the school’s latest Ofsted inspection, which concluded, ‘staff are proud to work at the school’.

“We continue to get so much positive feedback from our staff surveys,” she added.

“There were failings in this case; this is not the sign of a systemic problem.

“We will take positive action to ensure this situation does not happen again.

“We want to do everything we can to secure the best for our students.

“We are also deeply committed to ensuring that our environment is one where every member of our community can be happy, healthy and successful.”

Hereford Times