Bradford

Kirklees College pupil slap teacher in dismissal appeal

A teacher at a West Yorkshire college was sacked for striking a student while she was making a phone call about a fire, an employment tribunal has heard.

Sabia Sajid, 20, was slapped on her hip by IT lecturer Steph Crossley at Kirklees College last year.

The hearing was told Miss Crossley "needed quiet" and slapped her in a bid to get her to quieten down.

Miss Crossley claims her dismissal was unfair and that she might have acted as she did due to an anxiety about fires.

The tribunal at Leeds heard Miss Crossley was teaching a class at the college on 27 January when she and pupils could smell smoke, but could not see any flames.

Unblemished record

She made a telephone call about the fire and was taking instructions when she slapped Miss Sajid on the hip to get her to quieten down, the tribunal heard.

The student was not injured or seriously hurt.

At her disciplinary hearing, which eventually led to her dismissal, Miss Crossley, who had an otherwise unblemished record, said she could have acted like she did because of an underlying anxiety about fire.

She said at the time: "I don't like fire because I was involved in a school that had a real fire, whether that's at the heart of it I don't know."

Andrea Machell, vice principal of Kirklees College, told the tribunal Miss Crossley was given the chance to explain her behaviour but her previous experience of fire was not considered a mitigating circumstance.

Miss Crossley's counsel Jenni Watson asked Mrs Machell if the previous fire and Miss Crossley's unblemished record had made a difference to the panel's considerations.

She replied: "We did consider that and asked her 'did you panic?' and her reply was 'no, I absolutely did not panic.' "

Mrs Machell agreed that Miss Crossley had a "proper motive" as she considered the situation urgent but said the panel unanimously agreed that she had acted unreasonably, although not with gratuitous violence.

The hearing continues.

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