Bristol school worker claims she was ‘forced out’ by school

A woman has told a tribunal she felt forced out of her job when a Bristol secondary school became an academy last year, the Bristol Evening Post has reported.

Liz Rowbotham, who was head of extended services at Hengrove Community Arts College for seven years until it shut at the end of August 2008, told an employment tribunal in Bristol that losing her £47,000-a-year-job would cost her nearly £300,000 in salary and pension entitlements.

Her job at the old school involved running out-of-school services, including clubs for children before and after school and in the holidays. She was also included in the senior leadership team and her job involved line managing up to 20 staff.

However, she argued the alternative role she was offered by academy sponsor, Oasis Community Learning, was as part of an extended leadership team and did not have line management responsibilities.

The four-day hearing heard that Rowbotham, 57, who resigned the day after the Christian charity Oasis reopened the school, considered that she had been dismissed and that her dismissal was unfair.

John Hughes, representing Rowbotham, said the change would have meant her status, authority and influence would have been reduced and her duties altered.

She was “consistently treated unfairly and unreasonably” and marginalised during the statutory process of transferring staff from the employment of the school and local authority to Oasis, he said.

During the course of the hearing, Rowbotham dropped claims that she was dismissed on the grounds of age, sex and disability.

Andrew Sugarman, for Oasis, said Rowbotham should not have considered herself dismissed because there had not been a substantial change to her job that was to her detriment.

Oasis had created a role for Rowbotham but she was unhappy with it because it did not quite match her old job, Mr Sugarman told the hearing.

The tribunal will rule on Rowbotham’s claim on 13 October.

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