Education

Primary school teacher sacked for calling colleagues ‘bloody lesbians’ and leaving students in soiled clothing

Maggie Baska January 22, 2022
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A picture of the outside of New Christ Church Primary School in Reading Berkshire

An employment tribunal dismissed a case from a teacher who was sacked from New Christ Church Primary School in Reading over hateful behaviour. (Google street view)

A primary school teacher who was sacked after calling colleagues “fat s***s” and “bloody lesbians” had her unfair dismissal claim thrown out in court.

Iqbal Khanem was sacked for gross misconduct by New Christ Church Primary School in Reading, Berkshire in May 2019, the Daily Mail reported. She argued before an employment tribunal that she was unfairly dismissed as a result of age discrimination.

However, her claim was thrown out by the tribunal after the court was told the teacher hurled hateful racist and homophobic language at colleagues.

The court also heard that Khanem failed to respond to the needs of children attending the school.

According to tribunal documents, Khanem referred to a colleague as a “lesbian” and said “bloody lesbians” when speaking about co-workers. It was also alleged that she “regularly” used the term “fat s***s”.

The tribunal ruled that “adding the term ‘bloody’ to ‘lesbian’ removes any remaining doubt” on whether the comment was used as a “description or an insult/term of abuse”.

“At the very least, the claimant should have realised that her comments were derogatory and would be viewed as such,” the tribunal said.

Khanem allegedly suggested her comments were “light-hearted banter”. But the tribunal was told that “various members of staff suggested” that Khanem “acted in a way that was racist, homophobic and derogatory”.

Khanem, who is of “Asian origin”, mocked the “Asian accents” of children’s parents by ‘imitating’ them, the tribunal heard.

The tribunal slammed this behaviour as “deeply unprofessional” and theorised that the school could have been “facing complaints of racial harassment” should the parents have heard the teacher.

Judge Eeley heard that safeguarding concerns “based on neglect” had been raised in September 2018 after she left a child “crying loudly and uncontrollably” for “at least 20 minutes” in class.

The court also heard that Khanem left a pupil in their “soiled clothes for at least 45 minutes” after they had an accident in class.

A staff member also reported that Khanem spoke to a child in a “confrontational and unfriendly manner”. According to the tribunal document, the staff member felt the “child was clearly scared”, and the staffer felt “this had been an abuse of power”.

The tribunal heard the student was excluded from a “golden time” – an hour-long “free-play” session – later that day and had been “visibly been crying” as a result.

Khanem argued that “teachers over 50” were “targeted for capability” once an “academy has taken over a school”, the tribunal documents revealed.

She also alleged the school “would save a great deal of money” by dismissing her and “not having to pay her salary” as newly qualified teachers would receive a lesser salary.

Khanem told the tribunal that she felt like the subject of a “witch-hunt” and a “character assassination” with regards to her “behaviour towards the children, parents and staff”. She refused several accusations made against her and said the allegations were “malicious and derogatory”.

However, the tribunal dismissed the teacher’s claims of unfair dismissal and age discrimination.

Judge Eeley ruled Khanem’s dismissal was “not because of age” but, in reality, was “solely because of her conduct”.

“The claimant’s age was not an effective cause of the dismissal,” Eeley wrote. “It was not a material factor. It made no contribution to the decision.”

The tribunal also ruled it would be “likely” that Khanem could “behave in the same way again in the future” as she believed that “this is her style of teaching and that it is legitimate even if it is not currently ‘fashionable’”.

PinkNews could not find Khanem for comment and has reached out to New Christ Church Primary School and the Berkshire Schools Trust for comment.

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