Sacked teacher Kim Shaw 'victimised', tribunal told

Kay Shaw arriving at tribunal hearing in Cardiff Sacked teacher Kay Shaw raised concerns about pupil safety and the conduct of other staff

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An employment tribunal in Cardiff has heard claims from a sacked south Wales teacher that she was victimised after raising pupil safety complaints.

But governors at Pontllanfraith Comprehensive in Caerphilly county borough say there was a "breakdown in relationships" with teacher, Kim Shaw.

They say the English teacher's claims were a "vexatious" attempt to deflect from disciplinary proceedings.

The tribunal panel reserved a judgement on the unfair dismissal claim.

During the hearing, it also emerged that Caerphilly council used private investigators to monitor Mrs Shaw while she was signed off from work by her GP for stress.

Start Quote

The poor communication resulted in a dangerous situation in which I thought the boy was going to hit me”

End Quote Kay Shaw Teacher

The school's headteacher at the time, Robert Davies, said he did not know surveillance had taken place, but did provide the council with a photograph of Mrs Shaw.

Mrs Shaw was dismissed from her post at the school in September 2012.

On Friday, the tribunal heard evidence from the dismissed teacher who claimed she raised concerns in the summer of 2010 after being threatened by a pupil she considered to be under the influence of alcohol.

The teacher said the incident had left her shaking and frightened.

But she told the tribunal hearing that communication between her and the school's deputy head was poor, and that she believed the complaint was not properly investigated by either the deputy or the then head teacher.

She added the chair of governors did not investigate the claims correctly either, telling her that "events had overtaken" her own complaint, and she was now to be investigated for her own conduct.

"A line had been crossed and I could no longer deal with the poor communication," said Mrs Shaw.

"On this occasion the poor communication resulted in a dangerous situation in which I thought the boy was going to hit me.

"You shouldn't have a pupil in school who is under the influence who has previously pulled a knife on other pupils."

'No danger'

While suspended Mrs Shaw says she made senior school management aware that the head of English at the school, Mrs Hollywell, had been taking pupils out of class to style her hair, and had encouraged a teaching and learning assistant to complete coursework on pupil's behalf.

Miss Price, representing the school governors and the authority told the hearing it was the "manner and persistence" of the claims Mrs Shaw was making that resulted in her dismissal.

"Ultimately she is putting forward that she wasn't treated with respect, not that pupils were being put at risk. She did not have a reasonable belief there was a danger to a child - she was using these proceedings to deflect from her own disciplinary process."

The authority also submitted evidence that Mrs Shaw had previously made "unprofessional comments about colleagues" in the past.

Mrs Shaw claimed she only became aware of the issues about Mrs Hollywell which she reported while she herself was suspended from school.

The school's governors said those matters were dealt with at the time and apologies were made to parents.

The chair of the tribunal, Judge Claire Sharp, said she would issue a reserved decision on the unfair dismissal claim in the coming months.

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