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Teacher wins unfair dismissal case after telling pupil to get into a cupboard

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In Abdul Mohammad Basit v Pleckgate High School, a maths teacher who was sacked after telling a disruptive pupil to go into a cupboard has won his claim for unfair and wrongful dismissal. An employment tribunal found that Abdul Mohammad Basit meant it as a joke and was surprised when the 14-year-old, who liked to play the class clown, took it literally.

During the lesson the 14-year-old, identified only as Pupil A, appeared to be dozing so Basit told him to stand at the back of the classroom. He then made a flippant comment which led to the boy getting into the cupboard.

After the lesson the teenager and his friends reported the matter to headteacher Mark Cocker. Cocker took their statements – which the tribunal said had “inconsistencies and similarities” – and commenced an investigation the same day.

The tribunal found that Basit didn’t know about the allegations against him, nor was he told how seriously the school was treating it, so he made a “quick, handwritten statement” that was “brief and rushed” because he was trying to complete it before his first lesson.

Employment Judge Liz Ord said the school governors had also been at fault in not considering the behaviour records of the pupils, part of a class with behavioural issues.

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