A FORMER teacher at a Sheffield Council-run secure unit has been awarded £17,000 compensation after winning an unfair dismissal case.
Tracey Smith took the authority to an employment tribunal after being sacked from Aldine House, a unit for eight young people on Limb lane, Dore, where she had taught for two years.
The 43-year-old was dismissed in 2011 after being suspended on full pay for nine months, over several allegations, some of which she said were ‘ridiculous’.
Ms Smith, who had been teaching for 12 years and was previously working in mainstream schools around Sheffield, said she was accused of misconduct ranging from not following procedure in relation to child protection matters to not getting on with colleagues and young people and pruning a tree against health and safety rules.
She said: “The case has destroyed my career and I am pleased to have won.”
Ms Smith, from Crookes, said she started teaching at Aldine House, which accommodates about eight young offenders and other youngsters in local authority protective custody from across the country, in 2008.
Describing the allegations against her – which were rejected as unfounded by the Sheffield tribunal – she said: “I believe the problems arose because I didn’t get on with my line manager. I was accused of five allegations.
“One, which was ridiculous, was that I pruned a bush without performing a risk assessment.
Ms Smith said she was suspended in August 2010 and dismissed in May 2011.
She said: “In the meantime, I was on full pay for nine months doing nothing, which is something I was horrified about because I have friends who run companies and were having to make redundancies. It was not good use of taxpayers’ money.”
She said the compensation covers past earnings – but the tribunal will report back on further compensation to come from future earnings she would have earned if still at Aldine House.
A figure has yet to be worked out because the council’s solicitor said Aldine House’s future was uncertain and it may close.
Sue Palfreyman, council head of human resources, said: “We will always defend ourselves robustly in cases like this.
“The outcome of the tribunal has been confirmed as unfair dismissal. However, the final settlement will not be known until January 2013. We will not be commenting further until this time.”