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Former teacher taking Lathallan School to tribunal over safety claims

Former teacher taking Lathallan School to tribunal over safety claims

The former head of science at a prestigious private school in Angus became a “whistleblower” after he claimed serious breaches of health and safety were being ignored by senior staff, including the headmaster.

A pupil getting burning potassium on his face, another pupil suffering an electric shock and a powerful laser pen being shone in his eyes while he was driving a minibus all happened due to improper procedures and lack of discipline at Lathallan School, the former teacher claims.

Stuart Randall, of Sheepfauld Cottage, Brechin, also claims that young offenders, pupils with very challenging behavioural issues, children with close learning support needs and pupils needing ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) assistance had been brought into the school to boost numbers, despite no support regime or resources being in place.

He claims another teacher at the Johnshaven school undermined his authority after Mr Randall became his boss.

He said the colleague called him a “pompous little twit” in front of pupils and accused him of racism, which he was later forced to retract and apologise for.

Mr Randall said he highlighted a catalogue of concerns but “an insubordinate member of staff had quibbled with my statement that the safety of pupils was our top priority”.

He has now taken the school to an employment tribunal, claiming constructive dismissal on the grounds of harassment, victimisation and mismanagement.

He is also claiming that he suffered a detriment because he made protected disclosures (whistleblowing) about several issues of concern regarding the health, safety and wellbeing of pupils.

Lathallan has disputed his claims and is defending the action.

In his reasons for leaving the school, Mr Randall states the problems began when he was given the job as head of the science faculty in June 2009, in preference to a younger, less experienced colleague.

The colleague took the decision badly and began behaving in a “petulant, contrary and disruptive manner”, including swearing at him, calling him a “pathetic little man”, Mr Randall said.

He reported this to the headmaster but his complaint was ignored which, Mr Randall claims, “emboldened” the colleague.

He states that an appeals panel of the board of directors at the school expressed concern at his allegations and found “serious failings in the actions” of managers who discounted a grievance he raised against the colleague.

During an incident in the science lab, he said, pupils had placed bags as trip hazards and secretly filmed him reacting to the incident. Afterwards he was reported by the colleague for calling him “pathetic” and a pupil “degenerate”, which he said are “bare-faced lies”. The pupil in question has denied in writing that he said such a thing.

Despite that, Mr Randall was given a final written warning, which was rubber-stamped by an appeals hearing of the board.

He then tendered his resignation and sought legal advice.

A Lathallan spokeswoman said: “Given that the tribunal process is due to start in September, we do not feel it would be appropriate to comment at this time so as not to prejudice the findings of the tribunal.”

Ryan Russell of Muir Myles Laverty Solicitors, who are representing Mr Randall, said: “While it would not be appropriate to make any comment about the merits of the upcoming employment tribunal, it is clear from the nature of the claims being made that these are very serious allegations relating to the health and safety and wellbeing of the pupils that will be of considerable public interest, especially the fee-paying parents.”

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