Disabled teacher wrongly dismissed

19th January 2001 at 00:00
A teacher who lost her job after an accident on a school trip left her disabled has been awarded damages of pound;25,000.

Margaret Gordon, aged 57, a learning support teacher at Woodlands School in Newton Stewart, which educates children with emotional and behavioural problems, slipped and seriously injured her leg in a youth hostel shower in England while on a school trip to France.

Mrs Gordon wanted to return to work part-time several months later but the school bursar was concerned that she could only walk with the help of a stick. It would attract the attention of the children if she was provided with a "minder" and the children would "target" her. She was dismissed without notice.

Nigel Aldworth, the bursar, told an employment tribunal in Stranraer that pupils, most aged about 15, could be violent and unpredictable and had been excluded from mainstream school because of their behaviour. Staff had to be strong pysically and in terms of their personality.

He said that hardly a week went by without an incident between pupils, and staff had been assaulted. In his opinion, Mrs Gordon could no longer hold down her job, although he considered her departure a loss.

Woodlands had also faced financial problems because of a fall in numbers following a police investigation into allegations made by former pupils.

Mrs Gordon said she was distressed at the loss of her job, and suffered post-traumatic stress after her dismissal. She now received incapacity benefit of pound;67 a week.

The tribunal found the school's evidence about the levelof violence exaggerated. Mrs Gordon was entitled to be distressed by the manner of her dismissal, which had been because of her disability. It awarded her pound;22,389 compensation for two years' loss of earnings, including pound;4,000 for injury to her feelings, and a further pound;2,811 in interest.


Subscribe

If you are already a TES/ TESS subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Subscribe
Already have a TES Digital Subscription
Enter subscription number

Comments

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
 
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today