Thwarted job-seeker claims for wasted trip

18th May 2001 at 01:00
A teacher from Africa is furious after flying to the UK about a post that was filled before his interview, reports Warwick Mansell.

A TEACHER who flew thousands of miles for a job interview - only to be told the post had been filled - is claiming a pound;400 refund of his travelling expenses.

Keith Bright, a Briton teaching at an international school in Zambia, southern Africa, is demanding Brockhill Park school in Hythe, Kent, pays the cash after a fruitless 24-hour journey for a design and technology post.

He claims that the school had told him interviews would take place over two days, Thursday and Friday. But when Mr Bright contacted Brockhill Park on the Friday, it had already made an appointment. The school said it did all it could to contact Mr Bright after it decided, three days before he arrived in the UK, to hold the interviews on the Thursday.

The nightmare for Mr Bright, 51, began early on Wednesday April 25, with a 90-minute taxi ride to Lusaka airport, followed by a short flight to Johannesburg. Only able to afford a standby flight to London, he was forced to wait seven hours at Johannesburg airport, before a 12-hour flight to Heathrow, arriving at 7.15am on Thursday, April 26.

Arriving in Kent, he tried three times to ring the school, but claims he was not able to get in touch with the teacher responsible for the inteviews - Steve Burnham, the head of design and technology.

When he finally reached Mr Burnham the next day, he was told that interviews had taken place the previous day, and an appointment had already been made. Mr Bright, who tried without success to line up interviews with other schools during the remaining four days of his trip, told The TES: "I was dumbfounded when I found out. The school came over so positive about my CV, and yet this is the way they treat me. It's unbelievable."

But Mr Burnham said that the school had had no idea that Mr Bright was making the trip especially for the interview. The last time it heard from him, he had said he was arriving on April 24. The school had emailed Mr Bright two days before he arrived, telling him his interview was on Thursday morning. Accepting Mr Bright had not received this email, Mr Burnham said Mr Bright had not given the school a contact number, but admitted that he had not tried to phone Mr Bright's current school.

He said that Mr Bright emailed before the trip, saying he did not expect the school to pay expenses.

"I really sympathise with the bloke. I can't begin to imagine how upset he must have been. But I still maintain we did everything reasonable to keep him informed of the situation," Mr Burnham said.

The headteacher who got his old job back, TES Friday, 25

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