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Local reaction by many has been one of shock and upset, with a great many people commenting on social media about their experiences of Nigel Griffiths and the school. One person setup an Online Petition, a Vote of No Confidence in The Headteacher, which you can follow and read by clicking here.
Nigel Griffiths is since this case, no longer contracted by Ofsted to judge other schools, he is no longer a Lead Ofsted Inspector or an Ofsted Ambassador. This was news in February 2021, which you can read about here.
The word "animus" stands out when referring to JKHS Headteacher and Lead Ofsted Inspector Nigel Griffiths' attitude towards the Teacher, meaning "hatred; intense dislike". See one extremely clear look at Mr Griffiths by the Judge at the bottom of this page! (it is in a grey block)
Along with the Judge's statement, the Barrister representing the Teacher referred to Nigel Griffiths and David Boyd saying:
"Please be fully aware that it is our client's case that these individuals as head and deputy headteachers were the prime movers in the push to dismiss our client"
When the barrister continued on the topic that they'd made JKHS aware of this, and that Nigel Griffiths chose not to attend, he said:
"Nigel Griffiths is skulking somewhere in Ross not wanting to come to us."
A trustee was asked: "We do know that Nigel Griffiths was so arrogant that by 2016 he was using the term FIG-JAM to describe himself to people, does that trouble you?" - the term FIG-JAM, as detailed by the Judge in the statement, was used by Nigel Griffiths during the course of internal communications about looking into the teacher, it means "F**k I'm Good, Just Ask Me".
The Barrister in part of his final summing up mentioned things David Boyd had said (who did appear) "This tells us that David Boyd takes us all for fools; that we don't know how unions work etc.; that he has an arrogance about him to spout that rubbish".
The Judge's Statement itself is some 70-Pages long. It is in the public domain, having been published on the Gov.uk website for anyone who is interested to read.
Reading the Judge's statement will paint a picture of his conclusions of how JKHS Management treated the teacher in question.
It is quite unusual for a Judge's Statement to be this long (70-pages), as normally statements on Employment Tribunals are quite concise and short.
The case went into deep detail, with a 'bundle' of approximately 3,000 pages of supporting information, evidence and witness statements.
The judge's statement also criticised the fact that the 3,000 pages were at one point not presented in chronological order, this is said to have been a major contributing factor to the enormous delay of approximately two years for the case to be heard.
You can read the Judge's Statement on the Treatment of a Teacher by JKHS Management here.
On the 5th November, the school wrote to all parents in a letter signed by Denise Strutt, the Chair of Trustees.
Denise Strutt says about their actions "We make no apology for continually trying to get the very best for our pupils", but the reality is the Judge concluded extremely clearly that this is not what they were doing at all, the proceedings they undertook were clearly and damningly concluded as a sham, unwarranted and inappropriate, intended to get rid of the teacher and destroy their ongoing career, being bullying and unsupportive and so much of it when the teacher was at their most vulnerable. A very sad state of affairs when the Chair of Trustees, who should be independent, seems to not acknowledge this...
Her assertions seem to misrepresent the findings of the judge, and appear to be an attempt at distraction from the findings of this incredibly in-depth tribunal which found the school at fault on pretty much all points.
Here are a few key points.
She opens her comments on it with:
"As way of background, in 2016 the school dismissed a teacher following a process reviewing the very disappointing outcomes in their subject area and concerns around professional conduct. The individual concerned did not believe that they were treated fairly during this process, and took their case to tribunal."
The Judge made it clear that the processes were a sham, that they were courses of action taken which were only as a result of Nigel Griffiths intense dislike of the teacher.
Denise Strutt should be independent, it is the point of a Chair of Trustees to police and oversee the school's management with a critical eye. This behaviour at the direction of Nigel Griffiths has happened under Denise Strutt.
To give the impression that the teacher was not happy with how they were being treated during this process is completely at odds with the Judge's findings that the processes were not appropriate at all.
Denise Strutt goes on to say:
"We are, however, deeply saddened that the tribunal concluded that the actions taken against this teacher were not conducted in a way that reflects the ethos and values of our school and found in the individual’s favour on a number of points."
The Tribunal did not just conclude the actions were not conducted in a good way, the Tribunal concluded the actions were not reasonable, and the 70-page Statement of the Judge pulls apart the details of their actions for all to see.
As for the Tribunal finding "in the individual's favour on a number of points", this is a massive understatement and complete misrepresentation. Please read the 70-Page Statement for yourself for your own impression.
The Judge found Detriment regarding Union Activity, referencing that Nigel Griffiths had previous very poor dealings with previous NUT reps. Nigel Griffiths was investigated after shouting at one of them, Dave Chatwin.
The Chair of Governors at the time, Karen Frost, wrote to Nigel Griffiths about this incident after an investigation into it by Neil Pascoe (another Trustee), and she offered training to Nigel Griffiths saying:
"That there are no future incidents of a member of staff raising their voice to another member of staff. In an environment of mutual trust, respect and support there should be no requirement for anyone to raise their voice. So I would like to see you developing your leadership style to one that does create an environment of mutual trust, respect and support as this is the right culture in which people thrive and perform. Any training or support you require will be made available to you".
Denise Strutt on her claim of following independent advice:
"A disciplinary process is something that is led by governors with input from the senior leadership team and there was extensive advice from both external lawyers and HR specialists. We followed all advice closely and, as a result, our insurers felt our case was strong"
The Teacher's barrister referred to how HR advice was sought, and outlined how he saw "rubbish in, rubbish out", as he said JKHS were leading the HR with along a course of a pre-determined agenda of Nigel Griffiths to "get rid of her".
The Barrister also said:
"Performance management was not pursued as the respondent (JKHS) hoodwinked the investigator".
The Judge in his statement clearly stated:
“In answer to the question – are you serious in your allegation that the claimant chose not to teach this cohort – Mr Boyd’s answer was “we were concerned about her performance to commission an external investigation. This made recommendations.” The Tribunal did not accept that this was an accurate account of the discussion on this issue between the respondent and Ms Davies (of 'Hoople' the school's HR specialists), whose letter does not recommend this charge.”
Legal advice sought was also referenced in the Tribunal, where Nigel Griffiths had sought it to explore ways of achieving an objective of getting rid of the teacher.
Denise Strutt completely fails to reference the Tribunal's looking into Nigel Griffiths highly unprofessional behaviour:
This includes Nigel's referencing to himself with "FIGJAM" meaning 'f**k I'm good, just ask me' when dealing with actions that caused massive distress to the Teacher. Entirely inappropriate and unprofessional.
Denise Strutt on Insurance:
Referring to potential costs in compensation Denise says:
"While no details are yet to be agreed, we want to assure parents of two things. Firstly, the school has insurance in place in case of this outcome."
It is yet to be confirmed if insurance should or would cover the school in light of the actions they undertook being revealed to be inappropriate.
What is clear is John Kyrle is the school could fund it themselves...
JKHS has a very unusually top-heavy and very expensive Senior Leadership Team compared to other equivalently sized single secondary academies. By replacing Nigel Griffiths and David Boyd alone with a single Headteacher as per other schools, with a market rate wage of about £100,000, the school would save itself £150,000 a year. By also trimming the SLT to a suitable size for what other equivalently sized schools have, further savings could be made. These could easy free up in excess of another £100,000 a year.
With the school easily being able to save £250,000 or more a year, JKHS could fund any compensation if the insurance were to fail to because of the revealed reasons for the actions against the Teacher, if that is taken into account.
As way of background Nigel Griffiths in the last public accounts is listed as earning £145,000 a year and David Boyd on £100,000 - £110,000.
Denise Strutt's letter fails to offer up what the Tribunal concluded.
In detail the Teacher was deliberately targeted. This was looked at in a Court of Law, with some 3,000 pages of supporting documentation. It concluded the actions taken were out of an anti-union attitude of the Headteacher and driven by Nigel Griffiths' animus (hatred; intense dislike) of the Teacher. These actions were to get rid of the Teacher and the Tribunal found not only Unfair Dismissal but Unlawful Dismissal, as well as Discrimination on her Union actions, and Detriment on Disability where the school failed her.
The actions of John Kyrle, Denise Strutt says are "not a sign of a systemic problem", and yet the actions were shown to be institutional, from Nigel Griffiths to David Boyd, to Kristian Phillips and others on the SLT, including Trixie Clarke who offered up Union communications of the Teacher, and trustees overseeing Disciplinary and Appeals Hearings which served to finalise the sacking of the Teacher, all under the oversight of Denise Strutt as Chair of Trustees.
Denise Strutt does not criticise Nigel Griffiths, yet the Judge clearly and vividly did, and the Court heard how a previous much loved and long-serving Chair of Governors, Joyce Thomas MBE resigned as Chair directly because of Nigel Griffiths' behaviour towards Teachers at the school, and reactions and behaviour when issues are raised at the school.
Talking about out her reasons for resigning, in Joyce's resignation letter she says:
"I have to say that I was really quite upset at the over reaction of Nigel to my contribution. I felt his attitude and approach was both discourteous and also totally unnecessary".
On the topic of long standing teachers retiring and Nigel Griffiths making no effort to thank some of them or blank them, Joyce wrote in reference to one of them:
"I felt it was a very sad day indeed for the school that his work and efforts were not acknowledged by the Headteacher or by any member of his senior team".
She went on to say:
"I feel very upset about the way people have been treated recently and very sadly, I feel that I no longer wish to be a part of the school as in recent times I have not felt comfortable in the role of Governor".
Having asked in her letter that it be sent to all the Governors at the school and stating her disappointment that this had not happened, she wrote a letter to Governors directly, (enclosing a copy of her resignation) in it she said:
"My reasons for resigning are clearly laid out in my letter and I stand by everything I have written".
She finished clearly upset at describing how many "dedicated staff left the school unloved", and how no recognition or thanks was given to them by Nigel Griffiths for their "wonderful contribution that each and every member made at the school".
"I have to say as a Governor, I have been absolutely staggered at the number of people who have contacted me or have been to see me about this whole and sad business. I was ashamed to say that I was a Governor at the school."
The actions of the School management resulted in Detriment against being a Union Rep, Discrimination on Disability, Unfair Dismissal, and Wrongful Dismissal
The Judge's Statement and Tribunal findings do not support the how Denise Strutt reflects on it.
Denise Strutt claims transparency, but doesn't seem to be showing it.
"We all feel it important to be open and transparent about this news"
The simplest route to transparency would be to report the key findings, which she did NONE of.
She could also for transparency take the few seconds it would have taken her to point to the Judge's 70-Page Statement so people could read the findings for themselves, she did NOT do this either.
As a Chair of Trustees, Denise Strutt's role is to independently oversee how the school is run to ensure it is done properly, with a critical eye. Her failings to be effective and appropriate in this role seem to have not only let these awfully inappropriate and quite cruel proceedings against a member of staff happen, but now also see her not seeming to show any concern to accurately and openly reflect on what happened and let people know as she should.
If you'd like to read or download Denise Strutt's letter in full, please click here.
Read for yourself below: (none of which is referenced by Denise Strutt despite her claims they 'all' want to be transparent:
The Tribunal was invited to draw an adverse inference from the pejorative emails sent regarding the claimant referencing her trade union activities, the letter threatening disciplinary action for making unsustainable (etc.) allegations, the Bradford Factor request, FIGJAM, the request for emails about the claimant around strike-day. We were also asked to draw an adverse inference from Mr Griffiths non-attendance as a witness to explain these issues. We did draw an adverse inference from Mr Griffiths failure to attend. We concluded that the driving force behind the decision to proceed down the disciplinary route was Mr Griffiths. We considered that there were questions about his email correspondence which needed answering, instead this was delegated to Mr Boyd. The claimant had drawn an early link between her trade union activity and her treatment at the disciplinary stage, and this was dismissed without investigation by the disciplinary panel. The respondent did not refer at all to these pejorative emails during the disciplinary process, they were not given to the disciplinary panel. The respondent’s attitude towards the claimant’s union activities was, we considered, exemplified by Mr Boyd who saw no wrong in two colleagues emailing pejorative comments about the claimant, linked to her activities as a trade union rep.
The Tribunal concluded that the claimant had raised issues as a staff rep and had enthusiastically promoted the national strike and had then criticised the respondent’s approach to the strike, that all of these activities had from the outset very significantly annoyed Mr Griffiths, on the respondent’s own case he was incredulous, and that her union activity was counter to Mr Griffiths settled view that there was no issues within the school which required active union involvement. 214.
The Tribunal concluded on the basis of all of the evidence we heard that the main purpose for proceeding down a misconduct process – with allegations of wilful, deliberate, falsify conduct, and allegations of breach of trust – instead of a capability process which would consider the medical issues in more detail, was because of the significant animus that the respondent, and in particular Mr Griffiths, had towards the claimant. We concluded that this animus was expressed in emails and in his requests for evidence which coincided with the claimant’s trade union activities. We concluded that this animus was inextricably linked to the claimant’s trade union activities.
The court case, in the form of a Public Hearing, began on Monday 9th July 2020.
Being a Public Hearing, but with Covid-19 making physical attendance for the public not possible, access to the public was made possible using video conferencing by the Midlands (West) Employment Tribunal Court.
Video access was provided to anyone wishing to watch by requesting it from the court by email.
Initial information showed the Jurisdiction Codes that this Public Hearing fell under:
The Jurisdiction Codes are: UDL, TUM, DDA and BOC
Here follows a glossary of those Jurisdiction Codes:
UDL - Unfair dismissal on grounds of capability, conduct or some other general reason including the result of a transfer of an undertaking.
TUM - Suffer a detriment and/or dismissal relating to being, not being or proposing to become a trade union member.
DDA - Suffered a detriment, discrimination and/or dismissal on grounds of disability or failure of employer to make reasonable adjustments.
BOC - Breach of Contract.
The case began and on Friday 10th public access to watch the court case by video stream began.
The case continued Monday 13th July, from 10am - 4pm.
The case continued Tuesday 14th July, from 10am - 4pm.
The case continued Wednesday 15th July, from 10am - 4pm.
The case continued Thursday 16th July, from 10am - 3pm.
The case continued Friday 17th July, at 10am - 1:30pm
On Friday 17th when it ended, the Judge said he had previously indicated they might have been able to come to some kind of conclusion that day but this is now very unlikely.
It seems the wait for the verdict will be quite long (weeks not days).
The judge said that they (the judging panel) will be meeting again as soon as they can, and after they do that they will be sending out the judgement. The judge said could not say when it will be, that it won't be a matter of days it will be a matter of weeks.
THE VERDICTS OF THE COURT CASE ARE DUE SOON AND MORE DETAILS WILL FOLLOW
...please return to this page soon (and 'refresh') if you want news about outcome of this Tribunal.