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Education worker bullied for raising health and safety concerns

Mary (not their real name) worked at an independent school for children with special educational needs.

She was only there only a short time when she started having a number of health and safety concerns about the school. Mary never received any appropriate health and safety training from the organisation, despite being designated the lead first aider. Mary repeatedly asked when the training was to take place, as she was concerned that she would not be able to assist pupils or staff in the event of an emergency. Mary was also told to dispense medication to the students without parental permission, or having any form of training to do this. Parental permission sheets had long expired (annual renewal was not sought by the school) and frequently contained either wrong, or no, information to enable parental notification.

Fire safety was also a concern, and fire alarms were never tested (despite this being a legal requirement) and fire exits often blocked, causing a danger to the staff and students.

Mary raised her concerns a number of times with various staff members including the Head, Bursar and Chair of Governors, but her concerns were never addressed.

Ostracised and bullied by the staff, Mary felt her position was untenable and resigned. Her employer, however, told her to leave before her notice period was over.

Protect listened to Mary’s concerns and said she had acted correctly by raising these important concerns.  We clearly explained her rights under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 in case she wished to challenge her dismissal or bring a claim against her employer. We also advised Mary that she could escalate her concerns to the Department for Education. Mary now awaits a formal investigation by the school with an independent panel.