North East Wales

Howell's School in Denbigh sacked pregnant teacher unfairly

Rebecca Raven
Image caption Rebecca Raven said she had enjoyed working at Howell's School in Denbigh

An art teacher at an independent girls' school who was sacked after becoming pregnant, has won her case of unfair dismissal.

Rebecca Raven, 32, said she was told by Howell's School in Denbigh, Denbighshire that she was losing her job after finding out she was pregnant.

An employment tribunal ruled that the school was guilty of unfair dismissal.

A school spokesman said they had been unaware Mrs Raven had been pregnant and had offered her a part-time post.

But her union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said that when Mrs Raven applied for maternity leave in May of last year, the school told her she would have to leave her £23,000-a-year job at the end of the summer term.

She was then informed that she could apply for a part-time post as an art teacher, but when she applied she was not appointed, said the union.

Mrs Raven, from Flint in Flintshire, who had worked at the school since October 2008, said: "I am just so pleased to have won this case. It was terrible being told I was losing a job I loved.

"I couldn't believe it when the school told me I was being dismissed. I had loved working with the girls and really enjoyed my time at the school.

"It had been such a lovely school that two of my children went there too.

"Losing my job put a dampener on what should have been a really joyous time for me, looking forward to the birth of my third child. I hope the school's trustees have come to their senses and realise that they need to treat their staff properly."

'Natural justice'

Dr Philip Dixon, director of ATL Cymru, said: "The supreme irony of a girls' school dismissing a teacher when she became pregnant almost beggars belief.

"This is an appalling example to give to pupils who are, hopefully, being educated to be young, independent women with fulfilling careers and lives.

"We are delighted to have won this case for Mrs Raven. It is a victory for natural justice and common sense.

"We trust the final ruling results in a fair payout for our member to compensate her for months of worry and uncertainty."

Mrs Raven said she was seeking compensation, not reinstatement, and was hoping to find another job by the start of the September school term.

'Equal opportunities'

A spokesman for Howell's School said they were disappointed by the conclusion of the tribunal and are considering an appeal.

"Our position remains as it was before the tribunal. Ms Raven was employed in September 2010 to cover for an art teacher who was on sick leave with a heart condition," he said.

"He advised at the end of April 2011 that he would not be returning to work.

"A curriculum audit showed that we needed only one part-time art teacher for the new academic year commencing September.

"We met with Ms Raven to discuss the part-time job opportunity but she declined the teaching post we offered her.

"We had no indication or knowledge at the time that Ms Raven was pregnant.

"Because Ms Raven had declined the part-time art post, we advertised and selected the best candidate from the teachers who applied.

"At no point was her pregnancy a factor in our decision and indeed she had already been offered and turned down the position.

"As an all-girls school we have many female teachers. We are therefore experienced at dealing with staff pregnancies and as an employer we continue to operate within our equal opportunities policies."