A HEREFORD headteacher wanted to sack a colleague who had just returned to work after having chemotherapy for a brain tumour, an employment tribunal has heard.

Emma Shearer, headteacher at Riverside Primary School in Belmont Avenue, was called "vindictive and intimidating" by Rachael Davies, a teacher diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.

The tribunal found that Mrs Davies "was threatened with the potential of dismissal" through her capability because of "concerns about her inability to properly cope with key stage one, including her memory loss and coping strategies".

The teacher eventually resigned after her confidence in the school and it's head was "completely destroyed" and her health and career had been damaged.

The tribunal also found that regarding sick leave, Mrs Shearer had been "unnecessary, vindictive and intimidating".

Mrs Davies started working at Riverside in September 2011 as a full-time teacher for children in nursery and reception (ages three to five), and went on maternity leave in June 2016.

She returned to work on a part-time basis in May 2017, but at the end of the year was diagnosed with a grade three anaplastic astrocytroma, a malignant tumour, at the age of 30.

The tribunal report said the condition is incurable and results in a life expectancy of an average of eight years.

From January, she was absent from work on sick leave as she underwent surgery and chemotherapy, the report added.

But when she started to return to work 12 months later, problems with the headteacher Emma Shearer started.

Mrs Davies started by working with "underachieving" children in reception class, which was not her previous role.

In April, Mrs Davies asked to go back to classroom teaching, but Mrs Shearer refused, saying she wanted to keep full-time teachers in classrooms.

The tribunal found Mrs Davies was "very distressed by this and felt since her return she was being singled out for different treatment", she said that “it felt personal”.

From September 2019, Mrs Davies was moved to key stage one and two teaching, something she had not done for nine years.

This involved a different curriculum and she did not get an induction, and with the names of 120 children to remember, the tribunal found it was "a difficult task and would have been very difficult for the claimant who had recent brain surgery and had complained about intermittent difficulty with word-finding".

In December, Mrs Sherar suggested that Mrs Davies could seek ill-health retirement, but this was rejected.

"The tribunal finds, contrary to the respondent’s case that the headteacher was simply providing options to the claimant, the headteacher considered that the claimant was simply not up to the job and should take ill-health retirement," the report said.

"The tribunal finds corroborative evidence to this finding in the evidence of Liz Mason who told the tribunal that she had been directly told by colleagues that the headteacher wanted the claimant out."

There were also concerns over Mrs Davies's phonic knowledge and ability to spell, but with little evidence from the school.

The headteacher was then "surprised" when Mrs Davies was signed off for two months, but the tribunal said the comments were "unnecessary, vindictive and intimidating".

The tribunal, held in Birmingham in September, heard Mrs Davies was said to be “terrified of walking in the door" of the school and suffered from shock, anxiety, depression, anger that she had not been permitted time to fully recover from brain surgery, and lack of confidence.

In March 2020, she lodged a formal complaint about how she had been treated, and in July 2020 resigned.

Mrs Davies said in her resignation: "The effect of the conduct of Emma Shearer and of the school has caused me to again be unwell."

Saying her confidence in the school and Mrs Shearer had been "completely destroyed", she added her health and career had been damaged by the behaviour.

Claims of disability discrimination, failure to make adjustments, harassment related to disability, constructive unfair dismissal and victimisation all succeeded.

A remedy hearing to decide upon compensation will be held in due course, documents about the employment tribunal with the school and Herefordshire Council said.