Rotherhithe school discriminated against teacher on race, age and sex grounds, tribunal rules

Josh Salisbury (16 December, 2020)

The tribunal heard how a former teacher was not given a chance to apply for a senior leadership position, while others were

16454Bacon's College in Timber Pond Road, Rotherhithe Image: Google Maps

Rotherhithe’s Bacon’s College discriminated against a teacher on race, age and sex grounds by not giving him the chance to apply for a senior position, a tribunal has found.

Discrimination and victimisation claims were brought by Mr Mitchell, a black teacher in his fifties, who had taught sociology and RE at the school throughout 2018.

A social sciences curriculum leader vacancy became available in May, but was advertised on the school’s website for just 24 hours.

Mr Mitchell was not made aware of the vacancy so that he could apply, it was found, while other school staff knew about the opportunity.

Bacon’s College instead recruited a white teacher from an external agency, despite having an under-representation of ethnic minority staff in senior leadership.

The school told the tribunal it had rushed through the recruitment because it needed the new department head to be in place before September. It denied discrimination.

But the tribunal ruled: “Given the accepted lack of black people in leadership positions, the tribunal find that the difference in treatment was because of the claimant’s race.”

The discrimination claim was also upheld on grounds of sex and age.

At the time, all other members of the department had been white, female and younger than Mr Mitchell, the tribunal heard.

The teacher formally complained about the recruitment process to the school’s head the following month, Employment Judge Manley was told.

When the Bacon’s College teacher complained of his treatment, principal James Wilson suggested that he could resign, the judge heard.

The school’s boss told the tribunal the comment was intended to be “helpful”, which it accepted, and that there was no compulsion to accept the offer.

But the judgement criticised the school’s head, saying the “lack of any statement about wishing to retain the claimant left him feeling he was not wanted at the school.”

This caused him “victimisation” for raising the complaint, it ruled.

Internal investigations by school governors following the row accepted the concerns about the advertising of the position were “valid” but insisted there was no discrimination.

Other aspects of the teacher’s case, relating to discrimination because he was not able to apply for an RE teacher role at the same time, were not upheld by the tribunal.

The court also did not uphold a claim that he was treated less favourably during the grievance process because of his race, sex, or age, or in his meeting with the principal for those same reasons.

Mr Mitchell could now receive a compensation payout from United Learning, the trust which runs the SE16 school.

A remedy hearing has been set for January 26 next year.

The News contacted United Learning, but it refused to comment until after the January hearing.

The school, on Timber Pond Road, counts the late Jade Goody and boxer David Haye among its alumni.

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