Petition to reinstate suspended teacher nears 1,000 signatures
A petition calling for a village high school teacher to be reinstated after he was suspended for allegedly repeatedly raising health and safety concerns has reached almost 1,000 signatures.
Tom Mitchell, a teacher at Taverham High School outside of Norwich, was suspended on May 18 from the job he'd been in for 16 years. His conduct is now being investigated.
According to SafeEdForAll - a parent-led advocacy group - this was because he raised concerns in November 2020 to the school and his union about Covid health and safety measures not being followed, particularly in relation to ventilation and safety within the Year 7 bubble.
The petition, which has reached 967 signatures, asks for Mr Mitchell's reinstatement immediately - and for the school to "respect the rights to trade union representation at work without fear or detriment".
A school spokesperson said they would not be able to comment on a confidential matter, but that staff had "worked tirelessly over the course of the pandemic" to ensure the community is safe.
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They said the school had followed all Public Health guidance, and had received a visit from both the Health and Safety Executive and the county council which approved their risk assessment and confirmed they were compliant with all requirements.
But Mr Mitchell, who was today supposed to be saying goodbye to his Year 11 tutor group he has looked after for five years, believes he was right to challenge management and had students' best interests at heart.
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This newspaper understands, however, that teachers have been approached by a recruitment agency with a view to filling his role on a temporary basis.
A SafeEdForAll spokesperson said: "Mr Mitchell has always made sure pupils and staff are protected.
"Taverham will remember the problems with a drug den on Nightingale Drive opposite the infant school a few years ago the EDP reported on.
Parents, meanwhile, have rallied to support Mr Mitchell, criticising his suspension and applauding him for being a "brilliant" teacher.
In a message passed on by SafeEdForAll, Mr Mitchell said to students: “The world is now your oyster, make the most of it. Always try your best and do not worry if things go wrong. You have all done incredibly well and I am extremely proud of every one of you."