Head fails to reach part-time agreement

20th October 2000 at 01:00
A HEADTEACHER who won the right to work part time following maternity leave has failed to agree the terms of her return to school and is now launching a bid for compensation.

An employment tribunal last month found that Devon education authority and governors at Langtree community school, Exeter, had sexually discriminated against Rebekah Marshall and unlawfully refused to allow her to continue her career.

Mrs Marshall, 44, who had been head of the school for five years, gave birth to her fourth child last December, but her request for a job-share arrangement was refused.

After her tribunal victory, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, she spoke of her eagerness "to return to the school as soon as possible".

But her plans have been thwarted by the governors and the council's insistence that she should only be allowed to work three days a week until April 23 next year. Beyond that, they say, she must return to full-time working.

However, Mrs Marshall and her union, the National Association of Head Teachers, claim this proviso is in conflict with thefindings of the tribunal, which they said attached no time limit to her part-time working arrangements.

Ian Poole, senior solicitor for the NAHT, said a failure to reach agreement meant Mrs Marshall had been forced to accept that she may never return to the school.

Instead, she will be seeking to have the matter re-listed before the tribunal to apply for "substantial" compensation for damage to her career.

Mr Poole said: "We are at a total impasse. We agreed that, as well as working three days a week, Mrs Marshall would attend all governors' and parents' evenings and be contactable on the days she was not working.

"But we believe childcare duties are ongoing and she may have wanted to extend this arrangement beyond April 23. There was no suggestion by the tribunal that it should be for a fixed period."

A spokesperson for Devon County Council said: "The governors regret that the matter of Mrs Marshall's return to school remains unresolved.

"They feel that the proposals made are fair, reasonable and in the best interests of the children and school."

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