School that 'allowed antisemitism' lost 19 teachers

By Leon Symons, February 10, 2010
Children from Bigland Green Primary School celebrate 'Multicultural Day'

Children from Bigland Green Primary School celebrate 'Multicultural Day'

Nineteen teachers left an east London primary school accused of racial and religious discrimination in just six years, an employment tribunal has heard.

The teachers were employed at Bigland Green Primary School in Tower Hamlets and, according to Nicholas Kafouris, who is suing the school, this was due in part to the head, Jill Hankey.

“She upset a lot of teachers of different cultures and faiths,” Mr Kafouris said in answer to a question from one of the members of the tribunal in central London.

Mr Kafouris has claimed that he was forced out of his job at the school, where he had taught for 12 years, for reporting antisemitic and anti-Christian remarks made by pupils, some as young as eight.

They had said in lessons that they “hated Jews and Christians”, had praised the Twin Towers perpetrators as heroes and martyrs and said they wanted to be “Islamic bombers” when they grew up.

He had reported the comments repeatedly to Ms Hankey and assistant head Margaret Coleman but he alleged they had swept his complaints under the carpet. He claimed that he became clinically depressed and unable to work because of the school’s lack of support for him. He was sacked in April last year.

Mr Kafouris’s legal representative, Andrew Yiannides, gave the tribunal a number of letters from current and former pupils in support of the teacher.

Betson Criddle, counsel for the school and Tower Hamlets Council, asked Mr Kafouris during cross examination whether he brought the claim for discrimination because he felt he was treated badly compared to the children.

Mr Kafouris replied: “It’s not just compared to the children, it’s compared to another teacher, compared to anyone, people of any age, not just nine-year-olds.”

The tribunal continues.

Last updated: 2:41pm, February 12 2010