Teacher Tracey Smith receives 70k compensation after she was unfairly sacked for pruning a tree

Teacher receives 70,000 in compensation after she was sacked for pruning a tree without a risk assessmentShe was also accused of handing out an inappropriate sanction to a childBosses at the secure children's unit said she didn't get on with colleaguesBut Tracey Smith was awarded the maximum 70,000 compensationShe is still jobless after being placed on
the 'dismissed persons register'She says the suspension and sacking have 'destroyed her career'

By
Chris Brooke

PUBLISHED:

16:09 GMT, 23 January 2013

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UPDATED:

02:07 GMT, 24 January 2013

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A teacher has been awarded 70,000 compensation for being unfairly sacked over allegations including pruning a bush without following health and safety procedures.

Tracey Smith, 44, was tidying up a courtyard and used a saw to cut back an overgrown buddleia.

No children were present at the time. However, her failure to follow proper procedures by first carrying out a ‘risk assessment’ was given as one of the reasons for her dismissal by the local authority.

Out of work: Tracey Smith was suspended from Aldine House after a string of allegations against her

Out of work: Tracey Smith was suspended from Aldine House after a string of allegations against her

Miss Smith said yesterday: ‘It’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.’

The mother of one taught secondary
school age children at Aldine House, a secure unit in Sheffield run by
the city council mainly for teenagers detained for criminal offences.

She claimed she was targeted after she reported a manager for ‘bullying
behaviour’ placing her and the young people in the unit at risk.

Miss Smith tidying up a courtyard and used a saw to cut back an overgrown buddleia

Miss Smith tidying up a courtyard and used a saw to cut back an overgrown buddleia

She had worked there for two years when she was suspended in July 2010. She was sacked in May 2011 following an investigation.

She said after an employment
tribunal: ‘The case has destroyed my career and I am pleased to have
won. I believe the problems arose because I didn’t get on with my line
manager.’

Miss Smith said she faced five ‘trumped up’ allegations and
was given no warnings by management. ‘I was doing nothing wrong and
there was nothing wrong with my work,’ she said.

The bush pruning happened after four
teenagers had helped tidy up and weed a courtyard inside the unit’s
grounds before a PE lesson.

Miss Smith said after they finished she continued voluntarily and borrowed a saw to prune the bush.

‘Although technically it wasn’t part
of my teaching job there was no reason why I shouldn’t do that,’ she
said. ‘I was on my own in a locked courtyard with no kids around.’

The employment tribunal in Sheffield
was told other allegations given for her sacking were not getting on
with colleagues, handing out an inappropriate punishment for a
misbehaving student who then ‘smashed up his room’, and failing to
attend a lesson and a staff meeting because she was upset.

Miss Smith, who had 12 years’
experience as a teacher and previously worked in mainstream schools,
said she spent nine months suspended on full pay while she was under
investigation. ‘It was a waste of taxpayers’ money,’ she said.

She first heard about the bush pruning incident when she was being interviewed as part of the disciplinary action against her.

Miss Smith won her claim against the
city council for unfair dismissal and was initially awarded 18,000
compensation.

At a later hearing she was awarded a further 52,400 to
take into account loss of future earnings.

Taxpayers were also left to pick up the legal costs of the case.

The tribunal heard she was placed on a
‘dismissed persons register’, making it harder to find another job, and
was still out of work. A city council spokesman refused to comment as
an appeal was being considered.