Sacked art teacher lost tribunal claim

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A SOUTH Yorkshire art teacher who was sacked while on sick leave has lost an unfair dismissal claim.

John Beardshall, who taught at Brinsworth Comprehensive School in Rotherham, went off ill after one of his lessons was deemed “inadequate” during spot checks.

Students had arrived late and were unchallenged, and they did not appear to know what they were doing, a hearing was told in July.

Mr Beardshall, from Barnsley and in his 50s, missed deadlines for submitting pupils’ records and spied on a newly-qualified teacher’s lesson through a peephole.

In a reserved decision, a Sheffield employment tribunal rejected Mr Beardshall’s claims for unfair dismissal, disability discrimination and detriment through trade union activities.

The panel said Mr Beardshall, who was sacked for poor attendance in May 2009, was capable of delivering inspirational teaching.

But after an unannounced classroom observation by his manager in December 2007 the teacher described the results as “patronising, negative and nit-picking”.

When the headteacher and his deputy observed another of Mr Beardshall’s lessons as “inadequate” in February 2008 he became “immediately defensive and concentrated on the small details of the lesson, rather than the bigger picture of what the pupils were actually learning and gaining from their lesson,” according to the panel.

The teacher, who did not attend the tribunal, left work with anxiety and depression and did not return.

He claimed Rotherham Council then failed to follow its absence policy and the school ignored health and safety matters - but this too was rejected by the tribunal.

There were numerous attempts to get Mr Beardshall to attend a meeting over a grievance he raised with the school but he was eventually sacked by letter.

He appealed, claiming the school failed to address his grievance, tackle a bullying culture, or perform its duty of care.

The tribunal judgment said: “The appeal was never heard and the grievance was never fully responded to.

“We place the blame for those failures squarely on the shoulders of Mr Beardshall.”

The panel also found no evidence he suffered detriment because of his union activities and did not “even get past first base in his disability related discrimination claim”.

In conclusion, employment judge Stephen Shore said: “This is a very unfortunate case.

“We understand from Mr Beardshall he has been treated badly.

“However on a cold analysis of the evidence he is able to produce in his witness statement, we cannot agree with him.”