Teacher wins pound;16,500 in sex bias case victory

22nd January 1999 at 00:00
A headteacher surrounded himself with male managers. Frances Rafferty reports.

A WOMAN teacher has been awarded pound;16,500 after a tribunal ruled she was the victim of sexual discrimination when she was rejected for a management job.

The tribunal found that Andrea Willson was not appointed because Victoria high school in Ulverston had already decided that a man was required.

The head, Brian Dower, had surrounded himself with male managers, said the tribunal. The gender imbalance had already been noted in an Office for Standards in Education report.

Ms Willson received pound;1,500 for injury to her feelings and pound;15,005 compensation for other losses in her case against Cumbria County Council and the school governors.

Ms Willson had been the only applicant for a junior management post at the school. She was interviewed and rejected. The post was re-advertised at a higher grade and Ms Willson was interviewed alongside a male colleague but was rejected a second time.

The tribunal chairman, Nicholas Garside, said: "Our conclusions of the discussion of the panel are that it was intended by Mr Dower and Mr Keetley (the headteacher and deputy) that their preferred candidate should succeed.

"Mr Dower has surrounded himself with an all male management. He has failed to alter the gender imbalance or, from what we have heard, to have addressed the problem at all.

"It was determined by Mr Dower and by Mr Keetley that a man was required to be appointed. The interviews were conducted in such a way to favour a man. The other teacher did not have any more management experience than Ms Willson. She had outside experience but that was ignored."

Ms Willson said: "I am extremely pleased to have won my case. I could not have done it without the support of the National Union of Teachers.

"I hope the tribunal's report on this appalling act of discrimination will now motivate the school management team and give our female staff the opportunity to use their undoubted talents."

The NUT won pound;6,500 from the school in 1991 for teacher Sally Lister who was rejected for the post of second in charge of technology in similar circumstances.

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