Sunderland academy pays £14,500 to teacher for injury to feelings

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A SCHOOL had to pay £14,500 for causing injury to the feelings of a maths teacher.

Castle View Enterprise Academy was taken to an employment tribunal by former head of maths, Barry Fletcher, over issues arising from his disability.

Although the claims of direct discrimination were withdrawn, the tribunal panel found in favour of Mr Fletcher that the academy had failed to make reasonable adjustments needed for his disability.

The main claim of the 54-year-old, who suffers from severe osteoarthritis in both knees, was the Cartwright Road school – sponsored by Northumbrian Water and Sunderland City Council – failed to allocate duties to minimise walking and standing.

He claims that from late 2009 it would have been reasonable for the school to allocate him small class sizes to reduce the amount of walking around, and also a specific ground floor classroom and firmly set free periods.

The tribunal earlier this year heard the school made several steps to assist Mr Fletcher, including allocating him a disabled parking space, giving him a key to the school lift, exempting him from invigilating in the exam hall and letting him eat lunch in his classroom.

In conclusion, the tribunal board said: “An employee cannot expect to be given everything he asks for simply because he has a disability.

“In the claimant’s case, events and expert opinion showed clearly from an early stage he had a genuine need for the steps requested.

“There is no doubt the respondent knew throughout that the claimant had a disability and was likely to be effected as he was.

“The duty to make adjustments clearly arose.”

It said Mr Fletcher was at a substantial disadvantage compared to those not disabled, because he had to work in various classrooms, teach classes as large as 32, move about classrooms during lessons, work without classroom support and take free periods when it suited the timetable.

After the tribunal judgement, headteacher Janet Bridges said: “This has been a difficult period for the school and for our member of staff concerned.

“The school has taken considerable steps over a long period of time to try and support Mr Fletcher in his role.

“The tribunal highlighted areas in the case that were dealt with by the school in an appropriate manner, and some areas that it felt should have been dealt with differently.

“The school wishes to work together with Mr Fletcher, so that we can move on from this and continue to focus on delivering excellent results for our students and the local community.”