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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Bullied teacher gets 'suffering' payout
Alan Powis
Alan Powis is relieved his ordeal is over
A teacher who claimed he had been bullied for years by his former headteacher before being sacked has been awarded 230,000 compensation.

Swansea teacher Alan Powis, 53, agreed to an out of court settlement from Neath Port Talbot council on Thursday afternoon.

Sheena Ball
Sheena Ball: Dismissed Mr Powis

Mr Powis, of Llansamlet, was sacked in 1997 on grounds of gross misconduct, after five years of bullying by Sheena Ball, the former head of Coedffranc Junior School in Skewen.

Thursday's decision - one of the largest awards made for bullying - was welcomed by NUT Cymru.

It was claimed by Mr Powis that Ms Ball had sat for hours on end at the back of his classroom during lessons, not saying a word, but taking notes.

He was then summoned to Ms Ball's office and told his work was not up to standard.

After five years of such treatment, he was sacked.

NUT Cymru regional secretary Gethin Lewis said: "He had support from his union, family and local paper, but nothing from the governing body - which supported the teacher - and nothing from the education authority.

"The award reflects that his health has been damaged, all that Alan and other teachers would want is to stay in teaching and be properly treated and not have vindictive people putting them through disciplinary procedures which are unsupported by the facts of the case.

Gethin Lewis, NUT Cymru
Gethin Lewis: 'Lessons to be learned'

"The lesson for all local authorities is that teachers can bully each other. It is all about the pressure on the system to get targets. Unfortunately, some people overreact and pass the pressure down to others."

Mr Lewis added the size of the settlement related largely to compensation for personal injury and the damage to his health from a breakdown.

Mr Powis decided to sue the education authority, but in the meantime, without a reference, he took jobs as a security guard and door-to-door salesman.

It is reported that one in three teachers suffer some form of bullying in the workplace, the majority of which are cases of men bullying women.

Neath Port Talbot Council
Neath Port Talbot Council: Pay-out

The case was due to come before Swansea County Court on Friday, but the council agreed to the settlement.

Mr Powis said he hoped the decision would bring an end to a long and difficult part of his life.

He told BBC Wales that his lowest point was sat in a security guard's hut in Swansea one Christmas Day, listening to festivities in the nearby marina.

Mr Powis also spoke of his shock at the way he had been treated.

"I would find there would be somebody in the headteacher's room taking notes. I would be accused of poor standards and incompetence.

"I could not believe someone was thinking like this."

He added: "I sincerely hope it will give people the courage and belief that David can take on Goliath."


More from south west Wales
See also:

17 Jul 98 | Education
17 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
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