‘Great bitterness and animosity’: school bosses ordered to pay £6,000 to ex-employees
PUBLISHED: 12:11 29 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:11 29 September 2020
A school that closed down last year after a series of damning Ofsted reports has been ordered to pay two former employees more than £6,000.
An employment tribunal ruling published this month has revealed that Cre8 Futures Learning Centre, a former school for vulnerable children in Great Yarmouth, made unlawful deductions from the wages of two former staff.
The school, which had charged annual fees of up to £40,000 each for pupils who suffer from social, emotional and mental health problems, closed in July 2019 after being forced to move location three times in seven months.
It was rated inadequate by Ofsted in October 2018.
The tribunal found that two former workers, Stephen Black and Deborah Farrell, were both owed wages, notice money and holiday pay - and judge Roger Tynan ordered the former school’s directors to pay them each £2,630.
Ms Farrell was also entitled to a redundancy payment of £1,038 while Mr Black’s complaint that he was unfairly dismissed and was also entitled to redundancy pay was dismissed, the tribunal found.
In his ruling on the appeal, the judge wrote that there was “great bitterness and animosity” between Mr Black and his former employers and that this was “evident from the emotions that were on display at the hearing, a year on from their working relationship having come to an end”.
The tribunal heard that Mr Black had “raised concerns with Ofsted and Norfolk County Council as to the standard of educational provision at the school”, while the directors held Mr Black “personally responsible” for the condition of the premises.
The appeal heard they also accused Mr Black of “locking them out of the premises with the result that they were unable to retrieve essential materials, including pupil records, which in turn added to Ofsted’s concerns”.
The claim was “strenuously denied” by Mr Black, who told the tribunal he “had to secure the building to prevent what he described as asset stripping, including the removal of property not in fact owned by [the directors]”.
“In all of this, [Ms Farrell] is a somewhat bemused bystander,” the judge said.
In October 2018, Ofsted inspectors said a lack of communication between directors had prevented them from providing an adequate education.
An additional inspection the following April found progress had been “far too slow” and that the school had been forced to move three times after its original home in Southgates Road, where it had opened in April 2018, was deemed unsafe for children.
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