Page last updated at 18:42 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Devonport High head loses High Court job challenge

A Plymouth head teacher who claimed she was unfairly driven from her job has lost her High Court challenge.

Diane Hill, said labelling Devonport High School for Girls as "giving cause for concern" in 2007 had effectively led to her losing her job.

Her barrister said the Secretary of State should have intervened when alerted to problems at the school.

But Mrs Justice Dobbs backed Plymouth City Council and Department for Children, Schools and Families.

When the council's assistant director of children's services decided Devonport gave "cause for concern" two additional governors were appointed to "help get the leadership and management issues back on track", council barrister Guy Opperman argued.

'Staff resentment'

Things did not work out and Ms Hill, of Bishopsteignton, Teignmouth, Devon, was suspended in November 2007.

Ms Hill's barrister, David Berkley QC, said deciding a school was "giving cause for concern" should have sparked a series of steps which were not followed.

He also said it was "unreasonable" of the Secretary of State not to intervene when alerted to problems at the school in 2008.

But Mr Opperman said that in her own words Ms Hill had described a school where there were "complaints, departures, staff resentment, bullying and a large petition against her".

"The clear fact is that she was struggling and needed assistance," he said.

Ms Hill was finally dismissed in May 2008 after a two-week disciplinary hearing.

The judge said that, although it may have looked like the council had acted outside its powers, upon considering the background, it was entitled to have made the decision it did.

For that reason, there could be no complaint about the Secretary of State's decision to back the council.

Ms Hill is also pursuing Plymouth City Council at an employment tribunal, claiming she was unfairly dismissed.

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