Teacher loses Sidcot appeal
A FORMER teacher at Sidcot School has lost the appeal against his dismissal. Andrew Counsell was sacked for gross misconduct after he sent letters to parents and others making claims about the school. A three-man appeal panel recently decided the dismissa
A FORMER teacher at Sidcot School has lost the appeal against his dismissal.Andrew Counsell was sacked for gross misconduct after he sent letters to parents and others making claims about the school. A three-man appeal panel recently decided the dismissal should stand.The school says Mr Counsell broke confidentiality rules by sending the letters out.As well as posting the letters to parents, Mr Counsell raised allegations about sex abuse with the private school near Winscombe.A police investigation was launched and an individual was arrested and released on bail.This week, headteacher John Walmsley has sent a letter to parents confirming the appeal panel's decision.It also says Chris Gould, a parent and police chief superintendent, has nearly completed his examination of the school's Criminal Records Bureau and appointments procedures. A former headteacher, Ken Biggs, is reviewing allegations made by Mr Counsell and he will be ready to report his findings by half term.Mr Walmsley's letter goes on to say Mr Counsell has told the school he will post a letter to parents 'unless we meet certain demands'. "These include a compromise agreement paying him a sum of money, extinguishing the dismissal from his record and giving him 'clean' references," says the letter."He has sent us a copy of this letter and indicated who he will send it to unless these demands are met."We have no intention of meeting these demands and I am therefore sorry to say that yet another letter from him may land on your doormat."But Mr Counsell, aged 51, who was a part-time PE teacher, said he was not threatening the school.He said: "I sent a letter to the governors making various requests because I had been asked what I wanted when I was at the appeal hearing."I asked to be reinstated so I could resign, I asked for a severance package that reflects the hardship I have had to endure and my loss of service and a full investigation of the allegations I have made."These requests came about as a result of a question at the appeal hearing when I was asked what I would like to happen. No other reason. I was not using them as a threat to go to the parents."I am writing a letter to parents saying I am unhappy with the way my letter to the governors has been portrayed."Mr Counsell says he plans to take his case to an employment tribunal.A school statement said: "Andrew Counsell has been dismissed by Sidcot School for gross misconduct. He has appealed and the appeal hearing has confirmed the dismissal decision."We are aware that he seeks to represent himself as a legitimate whistleblower. This argument was considered in detail at the appeal hearing and rejected.