Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 13:25 UK

Plea over bully row dinner lady

Carol Hill
Carol Hill has lodged an appeal against dismissal

The father of a seven-year-old girl who discovered from a school dinner lady that his daughter had been bullied has said he wants her dismissal retracted.

Scott David's daughter Chloe was tied to a fence at Great Tey Primary School near Colchester, Essex, and hit with a skipping rope by several boys.

Carol Hill told him details of the bullying after the school had only mentioned "an incident" had occurred.

She was later sacked for breaching confidentiality.

It's affecting her [Ms Hill's] health quite significantly. Her whole life was the school and making the children happy
Scott David, Chloe's father

Ms Hill lost her job at the school following a disciplinary hearing.

Three months ago the dinner lady cared for Chloe after finding her tied to a fence.

Chloe's parents were sent a note later that day from the school saying there had been an incident and their daughter had received injuries.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live's Victoria Derbyshire show, Mr David said Chloe had appeared upset when she had come home from school.

He said they had planned to talk to her about it in the evening, when her after-school activities had finished.

'Made a scapegoat'

It was during one of the after-school activities that Ms Hill had asked how his daughter was.

She told him she had seen other pupils tie up his daughter and hit her with a rope.

But Mr David said Ms Hill had not said who the boys were.

He added Chloe had told him all the details later, so he would have found out what had happened anyway.

Mr David said: "We were disgusted [at the dismissal]. We were part of the PTA. We've supported everything the school has done.

"It's affecting her [Ms Hill's] health quite significantly. Her whole life was the school and making the children happy.

Removed from school

"I feel Ms Hill's been made a scapegoat. She knew the system..and that's what she followed and did."

Ms Hill has lodged an appeal against her dismissal.

Both Chloe and her brother have been removed from Great Tey primary and have since started at new schools.

The school said it could not discuss individuals, but confirmed a meeting had taken place last week and the person in question would not be returning.

The school said their priority was to provide the "best possible education" for its pupils.


Below are a selection of your comments.

As a father of a 7-year-old girl I am appalled that the school would not give full details of what must have been a harrowing incident to the parents. If this happened to my daughter I would be delighted that somebody told me the truth. She should be reinstated immediately and the school should be questioned over why they allowed the incident to happen and why it wasn't reported correctly.
Chris Davidson, Hexham, England

What a ridiculous reason to sack her from her job. What she did was positive rather than harmful. Maybe there are other procedures that she should follow in these circumstances, but this is not a reason to sack her for doing something that is ultimately morally correct.
Shash, Glasgow

I think this is a disgrace, political correctness gone mad. Isn't it time schools stop making excuses about bullies and expel the lot of them?
Lynne Boreham, Dagenham, England

As a school governor, I cannot imagine what the school is thinking. The head teacher should have contacted the parents of the victim and perpetrators immediately and set out a proposed course of action under the school anti-bullying policy. The fact that details "slipped" out in a casual enquiry by a dinner lady shows a serious failing of the head teacher and governors. The victim's parents should make a formal complaint to the school, for not properly informing them of the details. Ms Hill should be reinstated forthwith and an enquiry undertaken by the LEA and as a faith school, probably in this instance, by the diocese as well. Child wellbeing should be put first and concerns of potential embarrassment for the school a long way behind.
Jim, Tenby, Pembrokeshire

This dinner lady had no business breaching pupil confidentiality. That the school had given minimal information about the incident, meant they had a very good reason, which this woman had no right to defy. They were right to sack her.
Cyber Mole, UK

What sort of message does this send out to bullies when people are becoming frightened to speak out for fear of losing their jobs? The head teacher of this school ought to resign for their handling of this. I wholeheartedly support Mr David's request to have the lady reinstated but why should he have to remove his children from the school? Once again it is the victims who have to move away whilst the cowardly bullies get away with it. What is happening to this country?
Heather, Preston

I agree. Dismissal was stupid and ill-considered. Far from breaching confidentiality (and permitting the school to cover up the incident) she had a positive duty to disclose the incident. Data protection legislation is all too frequently misinterpreted and hidden behind by low level administrators.
Dick, Long Bennington, UK

Bullying is horrible and should never be protected by staff at a school. To dismiss a member of staff for telling a parent is bullying in itself. She had not divulged the names of the pupils who did it, so confidentiality was not breached. This is a cover up and it is the head who should have been dismissed, not the dinner lady, for not acting appropriately when the bullying was discovered.
Ruth Hunt, Birmingham, UK

This lady (Ms Hill) obviously had the welfare of Mr David's daughter in mind when informing him of what had happened. As a parent of a school age child, I would welcome any member of staff informing me of any incidents concerning my child, especially one as serious as this type of bullying. Ms Hill should be reinstated and commended for her dedication to the children.
Mrs T Mealin, Plymouth, UK

What would have happened to the dinner lady had it transpired that she had seen this occur but sat back and done nothing about it? Would she have kept her job? As an adult working in a primary school, whether you are a teacher or not, you have a degree of responsibility to oversee the welfare of the pupils, and Ms Hill has clearly acted in the best interest of the pupils she attends to.
Karl C, Liverpool

I agree completely. Reinstate the dinner lady, sack the politically correct headmistress and then make the dinner lady headmistress.
Steve Farrington, Manchester, England



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