Friday, 4 December 2009

Let’s Look The Other Way

I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
It wasn’t that I didn’t care,
I had the time, and I was there.

But I didn’t want to seem a fool,
Or argue over a safety rule.
I knew he’d done the job before,
If I called it wrong, he might get sore.
The chances didn’t seem that bad,
I’ve done the same, he knew I had.

So I shook my head and walked on by,
He knew the risks as well as I.
He took the chance, I closed an eye,
And with that act, I let him die.

I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
Now every time I see his wife,
I’ll know I should have saved his life.

That guilt is something I must bear,
But it isn’t something you need to share,
If you see a risk that others take,
That puts their health or life at stake.
The question asked, or thing you say,
Could help them live another day.

If you see a risk and walk away,
Then I hope you never have to say,
I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
by Don Merrell


What has happened to our society ? Why do people choose to look the other way ? We can help one another collectively but we do not. Is it through fear, fear of litigation or is that we have all been worn down by bureaucratic processes that have made us insular ? Or simply that we choose not to as there is nothing in it for us ?

Over the years, I have asked for advice and help – without exception, those who could help ‘look the other way’. This is especially noticeable within the framework of education.

By definition, the LEA, school governance and management are there to ultimately support us, the teachers. Through such support, we can do our jobs much more effectively.

But it is not like that ! The structure is fragmented into isolated components, each protected by barriers that block effective communication. So when you need help and advice, it is easier and safer to deflect the request, often by reflecting a view of blame and failure – so you give up asking for help … and everyone looks the other way !



I have several examples of those who looked the other way who were in a position to help me :



I had written to Steve Belbin, Lancashire County Council, Schools Advisor in January 2009, pleading for his help. He had provided me with guidance in the past and he had observed my lessons on several occasions. I had had discussions with Steve about the bullish nature of Andrew Kidd, head teacher. Steve had said that he and his predecessors already were aware of the head teacher’s management style.

----- Original Message -----
From: Belbin, Stephen
To: ‘Jane Watts’
Cc: Welch, Vic
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 12:57 PM
Subject: RE: J.Watts Duke St Chorley.

Good afternoon Jane, nice to hear from you.

I’m sorry to hear that things haven’t been going too well for you lately. Having spoken to our HR I have been advised that I cannot be involved in a matter which is, as such, between yourself and your employer (ie the Governors).

I am sorry I can’t be more helpful and I hope the matter is resolved as soon as it can be.

Best wishes,

Steve


It is evident from Steve Belbin’s e-mail reply that he could have and should have been allowed to contribute and make comment. Lancashire County Council, as his employer, denied him this opportunity. In fact, Steve Belbin should have had the moral conviction to speak - in the end he chose to look the other way !

This is another clear example that Lancashire County Council never wanted the truth and the facts of my case to be heard. Their focus, all along, was that I should be found guilty and that any and every opportunity I had to prove otherwise was suppressed by them.


Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Vicious Circle

A situation in which the apparent solution of one problem in a chain of circumstances creates a new problem and increases the difficulty of solving the original problem. Also called vicious cycle.

A fallacy in reasoning in which the premise is used to prove the conclusion, and the conclusion used to prove the premise.



It is evident that policy makers have created a vicious circle. The symptoms are classic. No matter what changes are introduced, the system continues to become increasingly unstable and complex to manage. It fails to respond to an apparently ever worsening set of conditions and circumstances.

There can be no escape from a vicious circle unless all those involved are prepared to step outside the boundaries and take a fresh look at the core problems. Only then can workable solutions be found.

There is great reliance on the teaching unions and their valued opinions and experience. I argue that they are responsible for the problem. No other profession in Britain today is so reliant and dependant on union support – why is this ?

They represent the only security that a teacher possesses. Every teacher, as part of their initiation, is instructed to join a union – it is crucial and is their only insurance. That is a very sad indictment of the management systems of the teaching profession.

Other professions enjoy a much greater diversity of support – enormous investment in HR departments – but there is nothing for teachers !

When you step outside the circle what do you see ? You see teachers being abused, victimized, failing, stressed without any independent support – they remain fearful, isolated and vulnerable.

After 20 years of failure by unions and government to resolve this catastrophic problem - is it not time that teachers were invited to join hands to make a fresh start with new eyes to address these problems ?



E. A. Francis of TES wrote the following article some years ago. I quoted it in an earlier blog ‘Horror Stories’. It is pertinent and relevant, capturing not only the devastating horrors of the existing ‘Vicious Circle’ process that destroys lives but the actual reality of the injustice of a corrupt and broken system.



Experienced, successful and skilled educationalists are leaving the profession ruined, destroyed and damaged beyond repair.

Confident personalities have been reduced to rubble by the grievance and disciplinary procedures in schools.

Some head teachers are getting away with condoning this travesty through the perpetuation of corruption or subterfuge.

I am talking of that all too frequent occurrence happening in schools around the country every single day. That fateful day when you walk into your place of work only to be summoned by the head teacher and told a colleague has made accusations about you.

Your world stands still. You feel sick, confused, hurt; and then you feel a fear beyond your experience and understanding.

At no time are you allowed to suggest these allegations are malicious; that would violate the accuser’s rights and interfere with the school’s policy to investigate.

You can not get angry; that makes you look aggressive. You can not say anything you have experienced; for example, isolation, being ignored, gossiped about, set up and not spoken to for weeks, months, years.

Oh no ! That would give the investigator ammunition to suggest you are not showing any remorse. You are guilty as charged. Condemned, judged and hanged – before you even get to your first grievance meeting.

Oh, and don’t, whatever you do, speak to another colleague about it. Not even if you are in tears or unable to concentrate on your job or that you have been found throwing up in the toilets. You will be told you are ‘canvassing’ for support which could result in a suspension.

An unofficial action group may form, those types who simply need to get involved, the one, two or three people who you have had a professional disagreement with in the past or maybe even the one or two who internally applied for your job and didn’t get it. They need to be heard, they make it their mission to be heard. Their evidence will help seal your fate because they have all been called as witnesses ! Your reports of this group are considered hearsay. Their reports of you are a vital part of a fact finding investigation.

Then that day arrives, after months of grievance and disciplinary interviews, the hearing, the decision. You receive a Verbal Warning if you are lucky, Written Warning – well not bad, let’s face facts, you have been told for months now you could be dismissed, so any Warning is quite a relief.

It was just such a shame no one believed you. It is even more sorrowful that tissues of convenient lies were believed instead. It is a tragedy you have lost all your confidence, faith, self-esteem and professional self-belief. For these things are to be dealt with by you and you alone, quietly and gratefully. Your life has been torn apart, your heart has been ripped out and every single thing you held dear has been dismantled, analysed and spat upon. You now have a stress related illness.

You need time away to recover. So now you have an official Warning and a sick record with a mental health diagnosis. Well that is fine, you didn’t get the sack. Just because you have lost the ability to go out, enjoy your hobbies, have peaceful evenings with your family, meet with friends, have restful holidays, sleep the entire night. None of that matters, as you didn’t get sacked !

Sometimes, untrained and unskilled members of a senior teaching staff act as a prosecutor would in a criminal court case. Even the police are not allowed to interview suspected criminals for more than a certain amount of hours at a time but schools can - and some do. So this untrained member of SMT who has probably never studied Employment Law, is unlikely to have read the Human Rights Act and who has possibly only just read the school’s grievance procedure is now responsible for your future !

Something has to change and it has to change quickly. I think it an outrage that so many good educationalists have had their careers ruined as a result of malicious allegations made against them by colleagues.

The system whereby a head teacher is able to act as judge and jury is ridiculous, unjust and only seems to favour what is ‘best’ for the school, which means no scandal, no press involvement and certainly no union clashes. Head teachers are seldom trained in law but disciplinary hearings are run by heads and senior managers as though they were QCs for the day.

Thousands of pounds of public money would be saved if this whole system were reviewed. These cases can result in a drawing up of a Compromise Agreement which has been known to involve ‘hush’ money. They are called ‘gagging contracts’ by those in the know.

Why can’t schools recognise the need for strategic management designed to avoid or at least preempt potential cases of staff against staff ? Ad hoc mediators should be available without the waiting lists. In-house counselling services should be available to everyone and the protection of vulnerable staff should be high on every head teacher’s agenda.

Grievance and disciplinary investigators should not be members of the involved school’s Senior Management Team. Be wary about who is taken on. Power in the wrong hands can only result in disaster.

Some cases are so trivial that dismissal may be threatened in order to encourage a resignation but if none is forthcoming, they are taken all the way and broken by the process. If they don’t leave, their Warning can be used against them for up to a year, like the Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, so just add on a few more ‘misdemeanors’ and with a bit of luck this newly acquired sickness record could be very handy towards conjuring up a capability case.

Current policy must be reviewed, evaluated and changed. The ‘accused’ should be afforded the same rights and support as the ‘aggrieved’. Witnesses interviewed during the grievance and disciplinary procedures are called by the ‘aggrieved’ and cannot be called in defence of the ‘accused’.

How can that be a balanced and just system ? It should be policy to assign an HR support worker for the ‘accused’. Independently run disciplinary hearings must be a forum for outing truth, irrespective of how inconvenient that truth is.

If this does not happen, experienced and respected staff will continue to be forced to leave the profession in droves because this is happening too often and towards too many.

Monday, 9 November 2009

A New Direction

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.” Buddhist Proverb

“It’s time we framed every question - every issue - not in terms of what’s in it for ‘me’, but what’s in it for all of us ? And when you ask that simple question - what’s in it for all of us ? - the direction not taken could not be more clear or compelling.” Senator John Kerry (1943-)



For years, unions, politicians and policy makers have been distracted by issues such as ‘suspension’, ‘anonymity’, ‘innocent until proven …’, ‘timescales’ and ‘natural justice’. The same old ‘key’ considerations continue to be debated. Every year, these same considerations are publicly presented, supported by the unions, as fresh and novel initiatives – and the same inhuman process continues.
Suspension
It is impossible to expect a teacher to return to work whilst their very life hangs in the balance. The stress is unimaginable and it is relentless without escape. (The reason why government wants this issue addressed is not from concern for the teacher – it is one of finance – the costs involved are high – teacher’s salary plus a supply teacher; supported for maybe years !)

Anonymity
In a school, everyone will know, parents, children and other colleagues – it is an impossible goal. I question the import of anonymity – I remained quiet for two years and I now believe that maximum publicity would have been beneficial to me personally.

Innocent until proven …
What does this ideal mean ? It has been banded about since the beginning of time itself. Even though it is the cornerstone of the judicial system, it is not possible to realize. The fact that there’s even been an accusation when you’re innocent is sufficient contradiction; let alone when the police arrest you and you experience the utter humiliation of being treated as a criminal.

Timescales
Existing government policies define the durations of the process stages; as do ACAS. They are reasonable and understandable – police investigation of about one month followed by maybe another month of investigation by the school / LEA. Why then did it take my school / LEA over 6 months ? In nearly every case, there is an enormous and unexplained delay that contravenes the guidelines. Why has there not been a public inquiry to discover the reasons for this failure rather than a complacent acceptance ?

Natural Justice
There is no justice in a system that is so corrupt and incestuous. With the exception of the police, there is no impartiality. Existing established mechanisms come into play - LEA and governors supporting the head teacher without question; for to do otherwise would damage the credibility of the entire school management system.

(In my case, Lancashire County Council Human Resource managers lied at my appeal hearing. Over several years, I had been bullied by Andrew Kidd, head teacher and I had raised this problem with Vic Welch, HR Manager. These known prejudicial opinions and actions by Andrew Kidd should have denied his involvement - but instead, Lancashire County Council sanctioned and supported his actions.)


Friday, 6 November 2009

Natural Justice

The jury, passing on the prisoner’s life,
May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try. Measure for Measure (1604)
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)



Barry Sheerman placed emphasis in his objectives to provide a system that would result in ‘natural justice’ for teachers who become subject to an allegation of abuse. Nowhere was the term ‘natural justice’ defined nor its significance :

Natural justice or procedural fairness is a legal philosophy used in British law in the determination of just, or fair, processes in legal proceedings.

In common law legal systems the term natural justice refers to two specific legal principles :

  1. nemo iudex in causa sua : “nobody shall be a judge in his own cause”, invalidating any judgment where there is a bias or conflict of interest or duty; and
  2. audi alteram partem : “hear the other side”, giving at least a fair opportunity to present one’s case (which may, for example, require access to counsel).
With reference to principle 1, this is the source of the problem; there can be no impartiality and therefore no expectation of fairness. The school and LEA are ‘judges in their own cause’. There is clearly ‘bias’ and ‘conflict of interest’ that can not be eliminated.

Duty too; the school and LEA are obligated to the care and safety of children. They must always err on the side of the child and in turn the parents; there is no freedom to do otherwise - sadly, some allegations are well-founded.

Barry Shearman did realize and appreciate the benefits of external investigations - the police, one would like to believe, are the experts; certainly better trained and experienced than a head teacher who is permitted to play the role of Hercule Poirot for months or more !

The fact is that the school and LEA does need to examine the events of any allegation; understanding and reviewing the facts helps to minimize future risks. So it was a forlorn expectation that the investigative process should stop following the police closing the case.

The problem is that some schools and LEAs use this investigatory exercise purely as a ‘witch-hunt’. It is this phase that is unnecessarily protracted and extremely damaging.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Government Response





Allegations Against School Staff:
Government Response to the Committee’s Fifth Report of Session 2008–09




Barry Sheerman, MP, Chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families, gave a commitment on Radio 4's File On 4 programme in March, 2009 :

“It is the most damaging, damaging thing that can happen to a human being. Especially when this feeling of injustice, you actually haven’t done anything wrong. Many teachers are being very shabbily treated and I want to get to the bottom of it.”

Initially, I felt some pride to know that I had, in part, been involved with this work. However, I quickly appreciated that this report only reiterates processes and ideals that already are in place or that have been uttered for the last two decades. Much could and should have been looked at to determine why the existing systems continue to fail and destroy so many lives. So far, not even the surface of the problem has been scratched and the bottom of it still lies, undisturbed, many fathoms below.

Unsurprisingly, the unions were quick to extol this ‘new’ report to be a significant step forward :

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said :

“The Select Committee report marked another important step forward in addressing the vulnerability of teachers to false allegations from pupils.

I am pleased, therefore, that the Government has accepted the main recommendations.

These now need to be implemented as a matter of urgency. Too many teachers are still having their lives and careers blighted by false allegations.”



Investigating abuse by teachers
Monday 21st November 2005 at 00:00

Ruth Kelly has unveiled new guidance for schools and other education establishments, local authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police on arrangements to speed up the process of dealing with allegations of abuse against teachers and support staff.

The guidance spells out standard procedures that will apply in all local authorities in England to replace existing local procedures and ensure cases are dealt with consistently in all areas.

Government Response : Ruth Kelly

Education secretary Ruth Kelly said : “The number of allegations made each year is very small as a proportion of the children and staff in our schools.”

“But it is vital that they are dealt with properly and fairly. We must protect children. Being abused by a trusted adult can have a devastating effect on a child and their future.”

“Equally, I am very much aware of the devastating effect that being wrongly or unfairly accused can have on an individual, their family and career, and how delay and publicity can exacerbate that.”

Stakeholder Response : NASUWT

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said : “I welcome the positive action the government has taken in response to NASUWT's campaign on this important issue. Too many innocent teachers have had their lives and careers wrecked by false allegations of abuse.”

“Teachers and others who work with children are extremely vulnerable to false allegations. NASUWT has campaigned for years for this to be recognised and for an investigative process which takes this into account to be introduced.”

“The guidance represents a significant step forward towards securing more balanced and fair procedures.”

“This guidance will not prevent those who abuse children from being identified and dealt with appropriately. Those who abuse children have no place in schools.”

“It does, however, have the real potential to ensure that those who are falsely accused, and their families, are spared the months and sometimes years of trauma and distress before being exonerated.”

“Teachers will warmly welcome the fact that for the first time there is a clear recognition in guidance that sanctions, including legal procedures, against accusers, should be considered seriously where allegations are found to be malicious.”

“The tightening up and standardisation of the recording of the outcomes of investigations will help to ensure that teachers who have been the victims of false allegations seeking to obtain a job in another school or local authority are not denied employment on the basis of inaccurate information.”

“Although the procedures do not introduce anonymity for teachers up to the point of conviction, the fast-tracking of investigations should reduce significantly the opportunity for public and media exposure which exacerbates the devastating impact of being falsely accused.”

“Case study analysis demonstrated that the longer an investigation took, the more likely it was for confidentiality to be breached.”

“NASUWT has secured a commitment from the government for the introduction of a monitoring procedure to enable regular review and evaluation of the effectiveness of the new guidance with a view to the introduction of further changes if the problems still persist.”

“Regrettably, these procedures only apply in England and so NASUWT will now continue its campaign in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to secure their introduction. False allegations are not confined to England and teachers throughout the UK deserve the same protection.”



Almost exactly 4 years has elapsed. Isn’t Ruth Kelly saying the same as Barry Sheerman is now saying ? And isn’t Chris Keates repeating herself including the same pious NASUWT flag waving ?

A Google search reveals the same old recommendations - often with Chris Keates with her flag. I’m reminded of the film “Groundhog Day” - am I Phil (Bill Murray) ? Am I the only person who realizes that I’m stuck in a loop in time and teachers’ lives continue to be destroyed by the same corrupt processes ?

It is little wonder that government has ignored most of the report’s recommendations ! There was nothing new to consider or implement ... hardly surprising when teachers and victims of the process were not involved !

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Salem Witch Trials

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before local magistrates followed by county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in Essex, Suffolk and Middlesex counties of colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693.

Salem, Massachusetts, is the site of one of the most gruesome moments in American history. In the late 17th century, more than 200 people were accused of “practicing the Devil’s magic”, resulting in an eventual death sentence for 20 of them. The citizens of Salem gave in to paranoia and mistrust during the Salem witch trials, which began when two young girls, Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams, aged 9 and 11, suddenly exhibited symptoms of hysteria.

The Trial of George Jacobs

The episode has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of religious extremism, false accusations, lapses in due process and governmental intrusion on individual liberties.



Former teacher Matthew Wren and the ATL’s Mary Bousted on false allegations against teachers.

courtesy BBC Radio 4 - Today 26 October 2009

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Times

Courtesy The Times
27 October 2009

The teachers who can do no rightThe Times 27 October 2009
One in three teachers falsely accused by pupilsThe Times 27 October 2009

Monday, 26 October 2009

Bush Telegraph

Courtesy Daily Telegraph
26 October 2009

Teachers need the law on their sideDaily Telegraph 26 October 2009
Cleared teacher calls for greater protection against allegationsDaily Telegraph 26 October 2009
Schools losing control of classrooms, warns ‘assault’ teacherDaily Telegraph 24 October 2009
Teacher’s relief after child cruelty case thrown outDaily Telegraph 23 October 2009
Many teachers ‘face false claims’BBC News 26 October 2009

Monday, 28 September 2009

Fair Play


In a recent article in the Sunday Times :

Dinner lady Carol Hill is a victim of Labour’s weasel mindset

Jake Asbury commented :

“There is a culture of bullying in British education and it starts with the headteacher in many schools. Unfortunately the governors seem to misunderstand their role as guardians of staff and pupils’ well being; instead they appear eager to agree with everything the headteacher tells them despite, glaring evidence to the contrary.

Whilst hiding behind terms such as "confidentiality" and "proper procedure" the governing body, ably assisted by advice from Human Resources, will misuse, by procrastination and obfuscation, every and any procedure available to them, to support the head.

If you work in a school you are a very vulnerable employee.”

Thursday, 27 August 2009

10,500 Miles Away ...

“God bless America. God save the Queen. God defend New Zealand and thank Christ for Australia.”Russell Crowe (1964-)
The problems affecting teachers are not unique to Britain. It seems that teachers are treated to intolerable and unacceptable abuse throughout the world. Why is that ?

I recently discovered two good blogs operating from Queensland, Australia :

The Teachers Are Blowing Their Whistles !

Bad Apple Bullies

I extracted the following comment from the above site as it provides some excellent advice :

Self-Defence for Teachers Tips :
  1. Don’t have an opinion. Certainly don’t express it.
  2. Don’t help other teachers or students who are being bullied. Report it to the head teacher. Walk away. It’ll continue. But there is nothing you can do. If you try to fix it, you’ll end up the one bullied.
  3. Don’t go remote (EVER !) Stay somewhere where you can have a life and feel normal.
  4. Don’t be competent or hard-working, but pretend to be, and point out every little thing you do to the head teacher. Make a big deal about small things you do like you’ve done something massive.
  5. Gossip and backstab - or it’ll happen to you.
  6. Suck up, big time, to the head teacher. (It’s hard, but grit your teeth, fake smile and do it.)
  7. If other teachers act jealous towards you because you are competent, make intentional mistakes and act like a ditz. Tell the jealous teachers they are wonderful every day.
  8. Shut up in staff meetings. Smile and look pretty. Nod frequently. Think about your leisure time.
  9. Don’t complain to your union, LEA, head teacher, or anyone else about any concerns you have. Waste of time.
  10. Take sick days when you are sick. Forget the guilt trips they give you for being sick. But pretend to care what they think.
  11. Don’t let anyone blame you for their issues (teachers, parents, students, head teacher). Know you did the reasonable thing even when they are abusing you, but pretend you are worried by what they think.
  12. Remember you will be abused frequently (probably daily). This is now normal behaviour in schools.
  13. Pretend to “love” teaching, like everyone else.
  14. Talk curriculum nonsense frequently. Accept the curriculum nonsense will change again next year, as it did last year, and is doing this year. Remember you can teach what you want all the same, just use the new politically-motivated discourse.
  15. Don’t get to school too early. Once the bell rings, you’re “at work”, which means you won’t get anything done. Don’t stay late. Planning is best done at home without interruptions.
  16. Find a place to hide at lunch, so you can have lunch.
  17. Record every behaviour incident - EVERY ONE in a special book. You will need to justify yourself and your behaviour management techniques repeatedly ... stupidly ... repeatedly. (Unfortunately, you’re not allowed a video camera in the room ... stupidly ... but that might change !)
  18. Say “No” and mean it, when they dish out the extra jobs, but do accept one extra job. Too many - others get jealous, too few, others get jealous. Be the last to pick.
  19. Talk crap in the staffroom. Pretend to like the bully. Pretend to admire them too. Know the truth.
  20. Know when it’s enough. Run, leave the profession. Be yourself. Be happy !


Down under, on Bad Apple Bullies they kindly added a reciprocal link to my blog with the following comments :

Don’t you just love the way that Pommie teachers refuse to “accept the things you cannot change” ?

Pommie women grew up singing “Fight the good fight with all your might !”

And that is what they do.

Their fathers did not fight, suffer and die in World War Two “for freedom” so that their daughters could be driven out of work by the gossip of silly dim twits, incompetents and psychopaths.

English women do not “accept the things you cannot change”.

It’s a cultural thing.

Teachers throughout the world suffer injustices every day – where are they ? Why do they not speak ? Again I ask for abused teachers in the UK to come forward – fight with a common voice !

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

More News ...

Dudley teacher in swearing row told he can teach againBirmingham Mail 18 August 2009

Speaking after the hearing, he said: “This is the end of a nightmare. I lost my profession and I’d been doing very well, the community turned its back on me, my wife left me and I lost my kids and my home.”

Mr Glover struggled to contain his emotions as he told the panel: I’m on oath and I can’t say that I did something that I didn’t do. I was accused of swearing and I did not do that, however I want to say to you that I absolutely agree that swearing in front of students or to students is totally unacceptable by a teacher and that any coercion of school pupils is utterly unacceptable.”

If I had done what I have been accused of I would have admitted it because I’m an honest, good person.


Assistant head teacher is struck offBirmingham Mail 09 February 2007
According to the above article, Peter Glover was suspended in September 2004 and subsequently was dismissed in June 2005. This is not justice ! This is another travesty ! This man was sentenced to a life of utter misery for 5 years during which his entire life was destroyed ! Why ? Legislature applicable to criminals prevents such acts of cruelty ... but somehow, it is considered acceptable for teachers !

Proper policies needed for when teachers are accusedWestern Mail 13 August 2009
Courtesy The Lady
10 August 2009
Courtesy Chorley Guardian
12 August 2009

Rise in pupils’ complaints against teachersLancashire Evening Post 10 August 2009

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Video Productions

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”NapolĂ©on Bonaparte (1769-1821)
Marge Simpson : “You know, the courts may not be working any more, but as long as everyone is videotaping everyone else, justice will be done.”Matt Groening (1954- )




My first video production – “I made this !” – as they used to say on the X-Files credits ! I’ve learned a lot; story boarding, audio and video editing - and the result is better than I’d ever imagined - mind you, I had some expert advice. It looks good on You Tube but the original is stunning !

There’s not much else to say … but I make this plea, if you know someone in a senior / authoritative position in education / government / media, then let them have a link to my video – better still, my blog ! The fight for justice must succeed with your help.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Your Country Needs You

Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener of Khartoum (1850 - 1916) is most famously remembered for being the face in the recruiting poster of the British people, in the First World War. His accomplishments were many more than that single, yet enormously important, campaign.



Lancashire County Council Statistics (27 July 2009)
YearReferralsSection 47SubstantiatedUnfoundedMaliciousSuspended
2007513034016
20088035112021
200965125616
The percentage of substantiated cases are nearly 6 times greater than the national average (5%); in 2008, their figure was 32%. Perhaps Lancashire County Council might be prepared to comment ?

If you are one of the above statistics then you probably feel that no one wants you anymore - certainly not your country !

But I do ! I have battled, on my own, for months. I have succeeded in many of my personal aims but there is a long way to go. I need support and help from others in my position and with my experience.

So, if you are one of the above statistics, then please contact me – together our voice will be louder and together we will be heard !

I invite you to join my single, yet enormously important, campaign !

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Parents’ Support

“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.”

Mark Twain (1835-1910)


I have taken the decision to allow comments to be openly shared that are relevant to my case. This decision hasn’t been easy but, since my recent press coverage, I feel that it is important that people are given the opportunity to discuss their opinion.

I am indebted to two parents who have contacted me with information pertinent to the events of 26 September 2007 and, from what they say, there are other parents who would like to provide additional details. I would be grateful if these other parents might come forward.

For those wishing to provide support, my e-mail address is :

falseallegation@gmail.com



Courtesy Daily Mail
20 July 2009
Courtesy Lancashire Evening Post
24 July 2009

Courtesy Chorley Guardian
22 July 2009

Andrew Kidd, Duke Street Primary headteacher said (Chorley Guardian): “There was a disciplinary hearing in March 2008 at which a member of staff was dismissed for assaulting a child, which was witnessed by another member of staff.
A subsequent appeal hearing decided that while the original finding of misconduct was correct, the decision to dismiss should be reduced to final written warning and at that point the member of staff was invited to return to work in July 2008.
However, the staff member did not return to work and was dismissed by the governors in May 2009 on grounds of non-attendance.”


I was sacked, reinstated and sacked again because I was too ill to teach !

How can your employer get away with making you ill and then sacking you because you are ill ?

to invite : to politely request; to attract; to encourage, to provoke, to promote, to welcome

In the paper, Andrew Kidd said “... the member of staff was invited to return to work ...”

I ponder his definition of ‘to invite’ as the school did not extend any invitation to return. In fact, there was no contact what so ever - maybe a telepathic or subliminal welcome back ? Or maybe he sent it in another text message that I missed this time ?

The other point that I reiterate is that the teaching assistant witness took some 20 hours to report the story and then only after much discussion with other teaching staff. You might have expected that, after witnessing, what was claimed to have been a violent and vicious assault, that she would have gone to the aid of the girl; certainly report it immediately. But she did nothing ... the reason for this was because nothing happened !

nothing : not any thing; no thing; an absence of anything, including empty space, brightness, darkness, matter, or a vacuum; something trifling, something of no consequence

Two witnesses, including the teaching assistant, confirmed that at the time of the allegation the girl showed no reaction nor did any of the other children in the vicinity. A “violent and vicious assault” that results in no reaction - how can that be possible ?

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Never, Ever, Quit

Courtesy BBC News

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Winston Churchill (1874-1965)



I Made This Happen !

I set out to change legislative policies so that no other teacher would have to experience and endure the miserable existence that I have suffered at the hands of Lancashire County Council and the management of Duke Street Primary School.



I have covered so much ground in two years, spoken with so many people, and fought for justice.

Today I have succeeded, I have redeemed a social condition – I catalyzed the meeting of the House of Commons, Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families on 17 June 2009.

I did it, no union, no support agency, just me ! Now the unions take the prestige as they issue great and bold statements to convince their members of their unwavering determination to protect them.

The NASUWT proudly announce that they have been campaigning for 18 years for reform. But it was me, a reception teacher who won the day.

Britain is strangled by social injustice, we live with it everyday and it is suffocating us and our society. Injustice must be fought openly and with honour … and loudly. My mistake all along was to accept it, to be humble, quiet and suffer in silence with the forlorn hope that justice would prevail.

So fight for all you are worth, shout, cry and scream ... but ... do not ever quit ... for success must be your goal !

Friday, 17 July 2009

Where Is The “Fence” ?

Said one, to his pleas, ‘It’s marvel to me
That you’d give so much greater attention
To repairing results than to curing the cause;
You had much better aim at prevention.
For the mischief, of course, should be stopped at its source;
Come, neighbours and friends, let us rally.
It is far better sense to rely on a fence
Than an ambulance down in the valley.
extract from The Ambulance In The Valley - Joseph Malins 1895



Over the past few days, journalists have asked for comment on the recommendations within the Parliamentary Report –

Allegations Against School Staff HC695

The report supports the view that ‘commonsense’ should be a key consideration. It struggles with other issues to do with preserving anonymity. It certainly contains many new initiatives and when implemented, the system will be better than the current situation.

It firmly supports the view that teachers and other school staff should be seen as innocent until proven guilty but what does that mean in practice ? It is much the same as saying “Suspension is a neutral act”; I can assure you that it is not !

An oversight in the report is an expectation that all associated bodies will ‘play-fair’. In my case, they did not and I entered a Kafkaesque world full of horror !

I am reminded of the film “Enemy of the State”, 1998 with Will Smith - well that’s what I have experienced - “It’s not paranoia if they’re really after you” - and they were - Lancashire County Council and school. From the moment of my suspension they ignored all the rules - they are able to do as they wish, secure in the knowledge that there’s nowhere to go to complain !

What is needed is an independently appointed ombudsman who makes certain that rules are obeyed in good faith.

The fundamental problem in the report, is that it does not address protecting the teacher and indeed the child - it discusses policies / procedures that only can be invoked after the event.

The fact is that, no matter what new procedures are introduced, an allegation levied at a teacher will destroy them, their life and their career. Anonymity, is the least concern - a press announcement and an absent teacher does not require the deductive reasoning of Sherlock Holmes to reach a conclusion of “Who dunnit !”.

With reference to “The Ambulance In The Valley”, the focus continues to be the provision of an improved ambulance service to deal with the injured. But where is the “fence” ?

Until there is UK wide social reform, the only protection available to a teacher has to be CCTV surveillance. There has been heated debate in the past on this topic but what else is there ? I would go further and suggest that teachers should be equipped with body worn cameras. If I could rewind two years then I would not hesitate to wear one ... it can save your life !

Would I teach again ? Yes, if I could feel safe. It was my life, I always wanted to teach and I expected to work until my retirement - I loved my job and I loved children - for they are precious and they are our future !

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A Catalogue Of Disaster

“The Comedy of Errors” is one of William Shakespeare’s earliest plays, believed to have been written between 1592 and 1594. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical ...


My story is not one of comedy but it is certainly farcical !



The following blog entry lists, in bullet form, key elements of my story. To fully appreciate the context, refer to the previous entries ...

I decided not to release all the information that I have collated over the last two years - there is simply too much ... over 100 Mbytes ! If you do have a serious interest and requirement then please e-mail me and I will provide you with a download link.

If it is an enquiry by the media then please read my blog prior to requesting an interview. I am still trying to recover my health and retelling / reliving my account is a considerable ordeal.



My situation today :
  • The head teacher at Duke Street Primary School, confirmed that a member of his staff was dismissed for misconduct, reinstated — and then dismissed again for “non-attendance”. But he said “the original finding of misconduct was correct”.
  • Expenditure of over £25,000 in legal fees.

  • Health damaged - supported by Sertraline and Diazepam for depression and anxiety / panic attacks.

  • Unemployable - permanent CRB blemish.

  • No pension for another 3 years.

  • £350,000 future earning potential stolen.


Key dates : (Refer : Time Bandits)

  • 26 Sep 2007  
  • 0  Alleged assault

  • 27 Sep 2007
  • 1Suspended

  • 31 Oct 2007
  • 35Arrested

  • 19 Nov 2007
  • 54Police drop case

  • 20 Nov 2007
  • 55School start investigation

  • 13 Dec 2007
  • 78Invited for interview by head teacher

  • 26 Mar 2008
  • 182Disciplinary hearing - sacked

  • 13 Apr 2008
  • 200Polygraph examination

  • 15 Jul 2008
  • 293Appeal hearing - reinstated but alleged assault sustained

  • 22 Apr 2009
  • 574Absence hearing - sacked again !
    (Your employer makes you ill - offers no support and then sacks you for being ill !)

    I make the following claims :
    • I am innocent of the allegation that I slapped a child on the hand.

    • I am the first teacher in the United Kingdom to have undergone a polygraph examination in an attempt to prove their innocence.

    • My actions did catalyze a meeting of the HoC, Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families.

    • I will never stop fighting for justice - for myself and other teachers.
    I make the following assertion :
    • Children must be protected - an allegation of assault on a child must be treated with the utmost care – it can not be ignored !

      But, once an allegation has been made, it will change the life of a teacher forever - no matter what the outcome and no matter how good policies / procedures might become in the future !

      The school and LEA have an obligation to demonstrate that they are active in their intent to protect children and to be seen to do otherwise reflects badly on the school.

      In my case, I believe that Lancashire County Council embarked on a strategically planned damage limitation exercise - sacking me was the most politically correct expedient !
      (Refer : CSI Springfield)

    • Lancashire County Council reinstated me at my appeal hearing but upheld the finding that I had assaulted the child. This was another strategic decision that blocked the option to progress the case through an employment tribunal.

      The assault had been described to have been so vicious and violent that the child continued to exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic abuse, including bed-wetting and fear when entering the school.

      The teaching assistant, who witnessed the alleged assault, explained that she had been so shocked that she was unable to help the child at the time. It took her 20 hours before she felt able to report the incident and only then after discussing what had taken place with the nursery nurse.

      There was agreement by witnesses that the child showed no initial signs of distress – she did not cry nor did any other children react in any way.

      If there had been such a violent assault, it makes no sense to have reinstated my position at school - gross misconduct is a sackable offence !

      Lancashire County Council had no choice – they knew that the case would not withstand the scrutiny of an employment tribunal. They also knew that it would be unlikely that I could return due to my health – they made no offer to support and assist my return to work.


    Summary of disaster :
    • At suspension, denied constitutional right to be accompanied.

    • Lancashire County Council never appointed a designated contact officer.

    • The school never agreed a designated link person.

    • Counselling support never provided.

    • Progress / review information never provided.

    • All contact with colleagues denied.

    • All social contact with the school denied.

    • Lancashire County Council sanctioned an investigation by the head teacher knowing that there was a history of significant resentment.

    • The head teacher rejected evidence that did not support his belief.

    • The head teacher’s investigative report was biased and prejudged. It failed to comply with Lancashire County Council’s investigative rules or those defined by ACAS.

    • Witness statements were not signed or dated. The content of statements were changed - explained to be administrative errors.
      (My statement had signatures and dates removed !)

    • Lancashire County Council denied that they were aware of the resentment by the head teacher.

    • Lancashire County Council intentionally excluded a governor at the appeal hearing.

    • The hearing committees were not thorough in their consideration of presented evidence.

    • There were close relationships between governors and witnesses that compromised any chance of receiving a fair and impartial hearing.
      (The key witness and another were governors. The disciplinary committee comprised a local florist and one of his employees !)
    Quotes of disaster :
    • “I knew what I believed and proved it !”
      Head Teacher

    • “Told to find out what the witnesses said and write down what I believed.”
      Head Teacher

    • “She had convinced herself of her own reality, that is how she passed the polygraph examination.”
      Head Teacher

    • “We felt that to use the statement would be a distraction.”
      Head Teacher

    • “The statement only served to ‘cloud the issue’.”
      Head Teacher

    • “I didn’t feel that character references were relevant.”
      Head Teacher

    • “You’re nothing but a media showman !” (Reference Don Cargill polygraph examiner)
      HR Manager

    • “Perhaps the difficulty you are having in answering this is you seriously disliked Mrs Watts at the time ?” (Head teacher chose not to answer)
    • “You know the position that we’re in at work. I can’t go behind his back. If he gets wind of it, I’m going to be in the shit really.”
      Teacher - SMT

    • “I do not feel that it is in the best interests of all of the parties involved for this to be re-examined.”
      Helen Denton
      Executive Director for Children and Young People
    Quotes of support :
    • “I have passed your letter to the Department for Children, Schools and Families so that they are aware of your views and to respond to the detailed points raised in your letter.”
      Prime Minister
      Gordon Brown, MP

    • “You are experiencing the effects of burgeoning bureaucracy and the consequent loss of personal responsibility and commonsense. I am sorry that Parliamentary rules prevent my involvement”.
      Leader of the Conservative Party
      David Cameron, MP

    • “Thank you for getting in touch. I very much sympathise with the terrible position you find yourself in. My heart goes out to you. And your position underlines my determination to provide more protection for teachers who’re falsely accused in the future.”
      Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families
      Michael Gove, MP

    • “I find it so hard to understand how in our society that you now have to present your own case and cross examine witness’s ! That in itself appears to go back to the dark ages when victims of crime were allowed to be cross examined by offenders !”
      Arresting Police DC
    Related quotes :
    • “Mrs Watts continues to deny smacking E.... T......”
      Head Teacher

    • “I believe Mrs Watts is guilty of gross misconduct for smacking E.... T..... and my concern is compounded by her refusal to admit the offence.”
      Head Teacher

    • “I refute the allegation – I did not smack E.... T......”
      Jane Watts

    • “I have to admit that my life and career have been ruthlessly taken from me by the callous and malicious actions of colleagues.”
      Jane Watts

    • “I would prefer to be treated as a criminal in a Crown Court than sit before my head teacher and his interpretation of justice !”
      Jane Watts


    Catalogue of documents / media :
    • Adverse Report Mrs Jane Watts - by head teacher

    • Why ask if head teacher had said this at suspension ?
      Lancashire County Council, HR Manager

    • Police Arrest Interview - 31 October 2007
      Jane Watts

    • Fear At School - Only asked for character reference !
      Teacher - SMT

    Wednesday, 15 July 2009

    Lies, Damned Lies ...

    “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is part of a phrase attributed to the 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and later popularised in the United States by Mark Twain.






    DECISION OF THE STAFF DISCIPLINARY AND DISMISSAL COMMITTEE OF THE GOVERNING BODY OF .... ...... PRIMARY SCHOOL

    I write on behalf of the Governing Body of .... ...... Primary School to inform you of the outcome of the meeting of the Disciplinary and Dismissal Committee held on 26th March 2008.

    The Committee considered very carefully all of the written and verbal information provided and then adjourned to deliberate in private on 27th March 2008, where they reached the following decision:

    ...

    We have considered carefully both accounts of the suspension meeting and whilst we believe that Mr K... did make you aware that the allegations related to E.... T....., we do accept that you should have been informed of your right to be represented at the outset of the meeting.

    The head teacher denied me my constitutional right to be accompanied. He then claimed conversation that never took place. He did so to discredit my honesty. The HR manager, Lancashire County Council, knew that I had not been informed as I had a conversation with him about the torture of not knowing any details of the allegation. I recorded this telephone conversation at 10.20am on 17 Oct 2007 :


    We were concerned by your statement that no one with the exception of the police, had ever asked you to relate in your own words the events of 26th September 2007. We are satisfied that the disciplinary investigation meeting held on 13th December was convened in order to allow you to do so. We note that you took external advice and chose not to use this opportunity, preferring to submit a written statement.

    “The investigation meeting is being convened in order for you to respond to questions by the head teacher.”
    HR Manager – Lancashire County Council

    I did not seek external advice; I followed advice provided by the same HR Manager. His e-mail, dated, 05 December 2007 14:31 :

    “A statement will be made in order for your response to be recorded. This is your statement and you will have the opportunity to amend this should you wish to do so. Normally this would be sent to you following the investigation meeting and you would then be free to amend it and once you are happy with the content you will be requested to sign it. Should you wish to submit your own statement then I am sure the Headteacher would be agreeable to this.”

    We also note that your statement at that time made no reference to the possibility that you had slapped the table rather than E.....

    My statement says :

    “As I have already stated in Section 1, E.... had been distracted that afternoon and had not been paying attention. The task that she had was relatively easy and in order to regain her attention, I tapped the table in front of her. There were pencils, papers, books, etc. on the table. E.... was not upset at the time and finished her work.”

    Also, my police interview recording discusses tapping / slapping the table :

    ...

    The Committee hope that you feel you had a fair hearing and would like to assure you that they thoroughly considered all of the information presented prior to and during the hearing, in coming to their decision.

    By their own admission, they were not thorough, failing to notice that my statement did contain reference to tapping the table.

    As for feeling that I had a ‘fair’ hearing ... words fail me !




    I contend that the HR department of Lancashire County Council suppressed information that would have supported my case. The reason why they should do so is clear – to find me innocent would have resulted in significant problems for both the school and themselves.

    There had been a succession of policy / procedural breaches throughout my case by Lancashire County Council and serious omissions. The school had failed in their obligation to ensure that I had been fairly treated and at least three members of staff had not been honest.

    The determination of ‘truth’ was never a genuine objective – they were forced by circumstance to expedite a solution that minimized potential damage and liability – and that was to sack me and hope that I would remain silent.

    Later, Lancashire County Council attempted to ‘gag’ me on two occasions :

    Over Christmas 2008, I had discussed my case with a few parents who disclosed this information on a blog. They received an e-mail from Lancashire County Council :

    05 January 2009 :

    “Please note that I have been instructed by the Headteacher of .... ...... Primary School …”

    “A further issue that I have been instructed to consider is whether the member of staff has acted contrary to the terms of her employment at the school, and contrary to the principles of confidentiality, in apparently giving an interview to you with (presumably) the knowledge that it would be published in this way.”


    D.... C.....
    Senior Solicitor, Lancashire County Council.
    Legal Adviser to Schools.

    And shortly afterwards, when they attempted to bully me into accepting a settlement contract that offered me a paultry sum if I agreed to not discussing my case with anyone - including my own family !!!



    During my appeal hearing, the head teacher posed me a question - why should people have lied ?

    I have pondered this question over months and a full answer continues to elude me.

    Colleagues who I had considered to be close friends have done to my detriment and, even though I wrote a blog “Betrayal Of The Bystanders”, I still have no answer.

    Part of the reason why people lied, originated from the prevalent atmosphere of fear and intimidation at school. For my appeal, I wanted to include character references from those who had known me and worked with me over the years. This was the response that I received from a colleague, a member of the school’s SMT, who I had worked with for 20 years :


    Perhaps the head teacher and HR manager might be better qualified and experienced and could provide an answer ?



    The chair of governors who had resigned in January 2008, remained as a parent governor and was present at the first session of my appeal hearing.

    He is a man of sound judgement, experience and moral integrity - and he had demonstrated his strong determination that I should receive a fair hearing. He was not present at the second session of my appeal hearing. This was explained to be due to an unfortunate clash of appointments. Later, I received an e-mail of apology from this governor :

    “I was on a course yesterday and came home quite late last night. I hope the hearing went OK yesterday. I wanted to be involved all the way through to the decision but was let down by the LCC and LEA, date arrangment for the hearning. Below is my email conversation with authorities regarding the available dates for hearing and they still went ahead with the date which I was not available on.”

    The conclusion is that his non-attendance was intentional. He had been excluded to prevent his participation.

    Nothing was ever going to be fair - after all, they had control of the rule book ...

    Tuesday, 14 July 2009

    Hindsight

    “The wisdom of hindsight, so useful to historians and indeed to authors of memoirs, is sadly denied to practicing politicians.”

    Margaret Thatcher (1925- )

    As I mentioned in my previous blog, I provided my statement to the head teacher at a meeting on 13 Dec 2007.

    I had believed that I was to be interviewed following the completion of the investigative process. The police had dismissed my case on 19 Nov 2007. The following day, 20 Nov 2007, I was contacted by Lancashire County Council’s HR manager who informed me that the school were to invoke disciplinary action; the first stage of which would be an investigation by the head teacher.

    It was natural to believe that, by 13 Dec 2007, this investigative stage would have been completed. This was a mistaken presumption on my part. In reality, the head teacher had done nothing for some three weeks.

    When I provided my statement, in good faith, I had provided him with a focus and target. The head teacher then embarked on an ‘investigation’ that set out to demolish my statement.

    The main argument in my defence was that I had been sitting at a child’s circular table, 55 cm in height and 120 cm in diameter, at the time of the allegation; the little girl had been sitting on the opposite side. I had been seated on a child’s green chair, 30 cm in height, with my legs extended under the table. This is far from comfortable but it is necessary to work at the same level as the children.

    The fact is that I could not reach across the table. I know from experience that I have to use rulers, pencils, etc., to allow me to reach a child’s workbook from the other side.

    One evening, the head teacher and the two witnesses were observed by a colleague, entering my classroom where they played ‘slapsy‑wapsy’ across the table. I believe that it became evident to them that it is extremely difficult to reach whilst sitting on a child’s chair.

    No matter, the evidence can be changed and the two witnesses claimed that I had been sitting on a stool, 60 cm high. Now, apart from the fact that I never use a stool, I would not be able to reach the table surface to help the children. Again, this problem was overcome by introducing a portable whiteboard.

    So, my defence was thrown into question by two witnesses who now concurred in their statements that I was sitting on a stool using a portable whiteboard.

    The key witness, a teaching assistant, had been using the same lesson plan as me, a Teddy Worksheet, that did not necessitate additional teaching support – certainly not a portable whiteboard. She had been sitting on a child’s chair. Why on earth would I then have to be seated on a stool ?

    When I received the head teacher’s investigative report in January 2008, I could not believe that the nursery nurse, whom I had known for some 20 years, would lie ... but she did !

    I discussed the head teacher’s report with the police. None of the officers could recollect mention of a stool or whiteboard during their investigation. Attempts were made to recover the archived evidence / statements but the Data Protection Act prevented this and I only succeeded in obtaining my own interview recording.

    In hindsight, I should not have provided the head teacher a detailed account or explanation. In the absence of my statement, he might have carried out a fairer and more impartial investigation ! But ... he could not have done for other reasons ...



    From the appeal hearing transcripts :

    Barrister: Your role as investigating officer – how did you understand your role ?
    Head Teacher :I was only involved in the investigation from 20th November 2007 because prior to that it was a Social Services S47 investigation. Once I had contacted personnel and the child protection team to clarify what I should do.
    Barrister:It wasn’t a question about when you started but what was your role.
    Head Teacher: My role was to ascertain what had happened based on the information I obtained on 26th – 27th September.
    Barrister:So it was a fact finding exercise to present info to disciplinary committee ?
    Head Teacher:My advice from personnel was to speak to witnesses and present a report based on what I found and what I believed had happened on 26th September. Hence when I did speak to people I believed that Mrs Watts had smacked E... T..... on the hand and my report reflected that – before submitting my report – I did talk to personnel / with VW about what was my role in the investigation process.
    I have never been involved in anything like this before – people who know me would know that I would take advice from child protection / personnel.
    Barrister:For the record you are saying personnel advised you to say what you believed to have happened ?
    Head Teacher: I am basing my beliefs on what I found out.
    Barrister:You are saying personnel advised you to come up with what you believed had happened ?
    Head Teacher:Mr W is here. That is what I was advised to do.
    Barrister:Did they tell you anything else. Did they tell you to be fair and objective in the way you investigate ?
    Head Teacher:Told to find out what the witnesses said and write down what I believed.
    Barrister:You mentioned lots of occasions you asked advice did anyone tell you to carry it out in an objective sense ?
    Head Teacher:I know this and do not need to be told this.
    Barrister:As you gave evidence you felt no resentment for Mrs W at the date of this incident ?
    Head Teacher:Correct.
    Barrister:Your words no resentment ? If you did feel any resentment you couldn’t have carried out a fair investigation could you ?
    Head Teacher:I didn’t have any resentment.
    Barrister:If you had a fall out etc., you couldn’t carry out a fair investigation could you ?
    Head Teacher:My responsibility as head teacher is to carry out fair investigation.
    Barrister:You told us you carried out the investigation in a fair and objective fashion and had no resentment. If you had resentment you wouldn’t have been able to carry out a fair investigation.
    Head Teacher:It is a hypothetical question – no resentment.
    Barrister:Would you agree that if you had issues with Mrs W you shouldn’t have been the person to carry out the investigation ?
    Head Teacher:It isn’t the case – no resentment.
    Barrister :Perhaps the difficulty you are having in answering this is you seriously disliked Mrs Watts at the time ?

    Asked by barrister to note the question was not answered.

    Barrister :Let me jog your memory to December 2004 event when Mrs W gave a speech.
    Head Teacher:I think you are referring to December 2003.
    (Refer : Anonymous Text)

    I had experienced ‘episodes’ with my head teacher over years - the ‘Anonymous Text’ was just one of many.



    During the summer term of 2007, I became unfit for work and was signed off ill due to stress through work. I was seen by Lancashire County Council’s occupational health therapist, M....... B..... on several occasions. I told her in some detail about the relationship problems that existed between myself and the head teacher. She noted my comments and said that she would mention my concerns to the HR department.

    At my final session with M....... B....., she said that due to the time that I had been off from school that I would be ‘phased’ back into my fulltime role at school. She said that she would discuss this with the head teacher and HR to organize a ‘back-to-work’ meeting.

    Towards the end of August 2007, whilst on holiday abroad, I received a text message from the head teacher telling me that a date had been arranged for a meeting with him and VW, a Lancashire County Council HR manager.

    I was petrified by the very thought of sitting in such a meeting and decided to ring M....... B..... for her advice. I expressed concern that there might be recriminations from the head teacher. She was more than aware of these problems from my previous meeting with her. When I told her that a ‘two-against-one’ meeting would be intimidating especially from my previous experiences, she realized that I had not been informed of my right to be accompanied by a friend. She agreed to raise the matter directly with VW.

    In the end, I decided it would be simpler to speak directly with VW, he was after all a skilled professional HR manager and felt sure that he would have some words of wisdom. I described the history and stressed the fact that I did not want any reference made to these workplace problems during the meeting as I did not want to open old wounds but wanted my phased return to be a fresh start and to please respect the confidentiality of our discussion.

    He said that he could not comment as he was an advisor to schools and not teachers. He added that if I was having problems with the head teacher then I should discuss them with my union.

    (He did not respect the confidentiality of our conversation as he brought this matter up at the meeting !)



    My barrister made it clear at my hearing that if there were ‘bad feelings’ that might be prejudicial to an investigation then another investigator should be appointed.

    The head teacher denied that there was such a situation. Clearly there was and he should not have been permitted to execute such an undertaking.

    Lancashire County Council knew that there was an ongoing problem - both the occupational health therapist and the HR manager were aware of the relationship issue. But at my hearing, when asked by my barrister, the HR manager denied any knowledge of the problem. (This dialogue was omitted from the transcripts.)

    I conclude that Lancashire County Council failed to act reasonably by allowing the head teacher to complete the investigation knowing that there was mutual resentment between us.

    It is of grave concern that a Lancashire County Council HR manager who knew about the issue should deny all knowledge at a hearing.

    Monday, 13 July 2009

    The Box Is Open

    Bilbo:A box without hinges, key, or lid,
    Yet golden treasure inside is hid.

    Answer:An egg


    The Hobbit - J.R.R.Tolkien (1892-1973)


    The allegation of assault was dismissed by the police on 19 Nov 2007. They said that cases, like this one, were nothing but a waste of valuable police resource and I understand that they issued a complaint to this effect.

    Regrettably, the police investigation is focused on establishing sufficient evidence to meet the submission requirements of the Crown Prosecution Service and it not their function, in the absence of evidence, to determine or judge the likelihood that a criminal act had taken place. However, the police did consider that I had been victimized and that their investigation had supported this opinion.

    So, on 20 Nov 2007, the school embarked on their Disciplinary process – which started with an investigative phase, undertaken by my head teacher, supported and advised by Lancashire County Council’s HR department. (They did have the option not to progress with any further action.)

    I was invited to an ‘interview’ with my head teacher on 13 Dec 2007 where I was expected to answer his questions. My responses would be recorded and at the end of the session, I would sign the so prepared document which would become my statement.

    There was no way that I could face being subjected to such interrogation; at that time I was very ill through stress and my mental state was one of utter confusion, in part through my illness, and part through side effects of my medication, Sertraline and Diazepam.

    On the day of my suspension, 27 Sep 2007, I had written everything that I could recollect (bearing in mind that I did not know the details of the allegation until my arrest on 31 Oct 2007). This record of events was my statement and I never changed any details after that date. It was lodged with my solicitor and was accepted by the police.

    Therefore, rather than subject myself to an intimidating and threatening interrogation by my head teacher, I submitted my statement and agreed that they could ask me anything else at a later date if there were any other points that required clarification. (This statement submission was at the advice of a Lancashire County Council HR manager.) I never heard from anyone until a letter arrived in mid-March 2008 to inform me of the date and venue of my Disciplinary Hearing.

    The investigative process and guidelines feature in some detail in my blog entry ‘CSI Miami’ and a somewhat cynical but accurate description of what actually took place features in my entry ‘CSI Springfield’.

    Lancashire County Council’s guidelines state (Refer : Annex 1) :

    “An investigation is a fact-finding exercise with the aim of obtaining, as far as possible, a fair and balanced picture through a written record. The aim is not to prove or disprove an allegation.”

    ACAS guidelines are much more detailed and stringent but the underlying requirements are those of impartiality, fairness and that no conclusion should be made by the report.

    This was the submission made by my head teacher following his investigative process (after 2 months) :

    Adverse Report Mrs Jane Watts - by head teacher

    His report concludes :

    1.5.2 : Mrs Watts continues to deny smacking E.... T......
    1.5.3 : I believe Mrs Watts is guilty of gross misconduct for smacking E.... T..... and my concern is compounded by her refusal to admit the offence.

    My statement is at the back of this report. Originally, when submitted, it had been signed, dated and witnessed but no one could explain why the signatures and dates had been removed. I suppose that it was that my statement was then like all the others for they were not signed or dated either.

    The head teacher deliberately omitted witness statements that did not support his findings. He explained his rationale for doing so :

    “We felt that to use the statement would be a distraction.”
    “The statement only served to ‘cloud the issue’.”

    The terrifying fact was that this was accepted by the hearing committee without hesitation or question !

    He also maximized on the opportunity to discredit my honesty by adding conversation that never took place at my suspension. He denied me my constitutional right to be accompanied. At that time, he told me that he could not provide details of the allegation and said that I would be informed at a later date - the later date being when I was arrested !

    Yet, in his report, he says :

    1.4.5 : I explained to Mrs Watts that I was suspending her because there had been an allegation that she had smacked E.... T..... on the hand. Mrs Watts said she had been cross with E.... during the day but had not smacked her. Mrs Watts asked if I believed her. I explained that the suspension was made without prejudice and that it would continue whilst an investigation took place and that it was likely that there would be a strategy meeting called by social services.

    I went through weeks of hell - I did not know what was happening, no one contacted me, and worst of all I did not know any detail of the allegation. The only information that I had came from articles in local newspapers; the featured information had been provided by Lancashire County Council.

    If the head teacher had informed me in such detail, why then would this conversation between myself and a Lancashire County Council HR Manager have taken place :


    I will refer to other details of this conversation in a later blog - suffice to say, this was the one and only time that Lancashire County Council made any attempt to ‘keep me informed’.

    Immediately following the release of the head teacher’s report, the chair of governors resigned. He had expressed his concerns about the poor quality and obvious bias of his report to the head teacher.

    He also had insisted that there should be changes made to the members of the Disciplinary Committee as they had limited training and no experience; but to no avail.

    So, at my Disciplinary Hearing, I was judged and sacked by a florist and his delivery ‘boy’; aided and abetted by Lancashire County Council representatives.

    The chair of the Disciplinary Committee and the now chair of governors is a florist whose shop routinely supplies the school with all it floral decorations, bouquets, etc.



    My next blog will focus on why my head teacher should not have been permitted to undertake the investigative process. I had suffered from several years of bullying and our working relationship and his behaviour was such that he could never have been objective. Lancashire County Council knew that this problem existed but denied it at my appeal hearing ! ... and more ...

    Visitors