Private schools Northamptonshire

Music teacher forced to resign from £10,000-a-year private school after head put her on ‘hit list’ because he 'didn’t like her nose stud'

Sarah Cameron, quit her role because headteacher Geraint Jones wanted her out and created a hostile environment to achieve his goals, it was claimed.

Other complaints included being put in charge of a Friday afternoon homework club when she was only meant to work a half day.

Miss Cameron claimed the environment at £9, 060-a-year Quinton House School in Upton, Northamptonshire, became so ‘hostile’ that she was ‘too intimidated’ to turn up at the school for exam results.

Headteacher Geraint Jones was critical of Cameron's nose piercing

A year after former Ofsted inspector Mr Jones arrived she quit.

She is now claiming unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination, saying male teachers on the ‘hit list’ kept their jobs while female staff were dismissed or forced out.

‘There was a hit list and I was on it, ’ said Miss Cameron, who broke down several times while giving evidence at the tribunal in Bedford.

Headteacher Geraint Jones was critical of Cameron's nose piercing ‘I left because I felt Mr Jones did not want me in the school and made my life as uncomfortable as possible, so I felt I would have to resign or he’d fire me.’

Asked why she hadn’t aired any grievances in her resignation letter, she said she was ‘too scared’.

Miss Cameron, who is single and lives in Abington, joined the school in 1991. She said she was targeted immediately after Mr Jones was appointed in January 2009.

A report she submitted about the pavilion being unsuitable for music was lost by her boss, she claimed.

She also complained he wrote a shorter message in her Christmas card than for other staff.

Allegations: Ms Cameron claimed Mr Jones intentionally made her life miserable by moving her classroom to a cricket pavilion away from the main campus, leaving her 'unsupported and isolated'

Oliver Hyams, representing Miss Cameron, said the head had a conversation with his deputy at the time, Christine Chapman, where he was asked if the music teacher had upset him and why.

Allegations: Ms Cameron claimed Mr Jones intentionally made her life miserable by moving her classroom to a cricket pavilion away from the main campus, leaving her 'unsupported and isolated' ‘Mr Jones said that he did not like the claimant’s nose stud, ’ Mr Hyams said. ‘This evidence shows that Mr Jones had taken against the claimant very early on.’ It was also claimed that he discussed having a hit list with former school owner Patricia Griffiths.

In her witness statement, Mrs Griffiths said Mr Jones went on to describe the claimant as ‘very temperamental’ and said he ‘didn’t like her attitude and facial expressions’.

The tribunal heard the list of teachers Mr Jones was allegedly keen to clear out included Mrs Chapman, who was dismissed; science teacher Sarah Old, who was forced to resign; and another science teacher, Margaret Sorenson, who failed a probationary period.

Geraint Jones was made deputy head of Quinton House School in Upton, Northants., in January 2009, when new owners Cognita took over amd Ms Cameron claimed she was instantly targetedGeraint Jones was made deputy head of Quinton House School in Upton, Northants., in January 2009, when new owners Cognita took over amd Ms Cameron claimed she was instantly targeted

Two male teachers who kept their jobs were science teacher Shaun Pape, who was promoted to assistant head, and Dr Philip Irwin, who was head of the junior school.

Mr Hyams added: ‘It is the claimant’s case that if she had been a man then Mr Jones would have treated her less unfavourably.’ Under cross-examination, Mr Jones, 35, admitted he had a list of staff who needed to improve but denied it was a ‘hit list’. He told the tribunal his leadership style was ‘direct and target-driven’ but was not in any way ‘aggressive, bossy or involved shouting or bullying’.

The school, which was established in 1946, has nearly 400 children aged two to 18. A 2010 Ofsted report described it as ‘highly successful’.

Tim Sheppard, representing independent schools company Cognita, which bought Quinton House in 2004, said the tribunal was an attempt at a ‘character assassination’ by Mrs Griffiths, 73, and her husband Gerald, 72, who felt guilty Miss Cameron had lost her job.


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