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Teacher 'set up to appear incapable'

Midlands employment tribunal will hear claim for unfair dismissal. Matthew West reports

A TEACHER with more than 25 years' experience lacked leadership and management skills and failed to met basic teaching standards, the General Teaching Council for England heard this week.

Inspectors failed four out of five lessons taken by Wendy Pearson when she was head of PE at Dame Elizabeth technology college in Bourneville, Birmingham.

She resigned in March 2001 following a competency procedure and a meeting of the school governors, which found her unfit to teach.

Miss Pearson is taking Birmingham City Council to an employment tribunal later this month claiming unfair dismissal.

"I had been set up to appear incapable," she said. "It was obvious that the school was determined to dismiss me."

The GTCE this week heard that Miss Pearson, from Selly Oak in Birmingham, had been a teacher at the school since 1982, first as its head of PE, and later as the head of business studies.

The committee was told she failed to lead or manage the curriculum adequately.She did not co-operate with colleagues or provide clear objectives for pupils.

Helen Silverstone, a local authority adviser, said teaching in a business studies lesson "seemed to lack any understanding of the abilities of the class.

"There was a substantial lack of clear learning objectives for the lesson and I was concerned that Wendy Pearson had not taken into account the attainment level of the class," she said.

Office for Standards in Education inspectors said there had been insufficient progress in her lessons since a previous inspection four years earlier.

Headteacher Leslie Brumen said she became aware of problems in the PE department soon after she became head in 1997.

She said she became concerned about issues of management, leadership and procedure within the department and that she felt 'national curriculum standards were not being met.

Miss Pearson told the committee that she had been suffering from anxiety, stress and depression and that she had suffered ill- health for most of 1999.

The hearing heard how the Occupational Health Authority, which was called in because of Miss Pearson's absences, reported that she felt her working environment had become hostile and that her new job as head of business studies was "degrading".

Miss Pearson told the committee that she had been told of the competency procedure just two days after returning to full-time work in January 2000.

She said she was expected to teach geography, religious education, business studies, information and communications technology and maths as well as manage the business studies department.

"I was required to teach subjects about which I knew little. I was bullied and my previous 19-year record was not taken into account," she said.

The GTCE adjourned its hearing until November 28.

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