Teaching assistant sacked after giving boy girls' name in PE lesson

An elementary school teacher was fired after he “humiliated” a young boy by giving him the name of a girl in class.

John Brelsford split his physical education classes by sex to play a game, a labor court heard.

But there weren’t enough girls to make equal teams, so some of the boys had to switch sides.

Mr Brelsford then began naming the boys who played on the girls’ side, was told the hearing, leaving a “vulnerable” student suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) “humiliated” and ” cried ”.

After he got upset, the vet called him a “baby” in front of his classmates.

Following the incident, Mr Brelsford was fired for having been warned about his behavior following previous complaints from parents and staff about his behavior.

The tribunal heard that he had previously labeled students “stupid” and “pathetic”, “yelled” and “yelled at” and Googled “ginger phobia” in front of his class, leading to a red-haired child being teased by his classmates .

Mr Brelsford alleged that he was fired for “revenge” against him, but the court dismissed his unfair dismissal complaint claiming that he could have been fired “much earlier than he was”.

The Tribunal heard that Mr. Brelsford worked at St. Wilfrid’s Primary School, a Catholic voluntary academy in the cathedral city of Ripon, North York.

In February 2017, Headmaster Andrew Truby met with Mr Brelsford after a number of parents raised concerns about things the teacher said to children in the classroom during a parents’ evening.

These included claims that he had undermined their child’s confidence by publicly collecting test results, commenting that the child was unaware of their timetables, and saying it was “pathetic” if a child did not get double-digit results on their test.

It was also around this time that Mr Brelsford was alleged to have “screamed” a child and mimicked his behavior.

In November 2017, a child reported to his class teacher that Mr Brelsford had injured his hand from being crushed.

The next month, one parent reported that their child was “a little upset” about something that happened in class.

The Tribunal heard that Mr. Brelsford was teaching a lesson on Vikings when he searched the internet for “ginger phobia”. This resulted in one child in the class with red hair being teased and upset by his classmates.

Mr Brelsford was suspended pending an investigation which resulted in his receiving an initial written warning that would live for 12 months.

The Leeds Tribunal heard that Mr Brelsford was then accused of yelling at a student, “Stop being stupid” while that warning was in effect.

This resulted in his final written warning to remain on his file for two years.

In July 2019, a parent filed a written complaint against Mr Brelsford about his behavior on a sports day when he allegedly allowed too many runners to compete, potentially injuring children. No formal action was taken, but the school gave him another advisory letter.

The last incident that resulted in Mr Brelsford’s dismissal occurred in October 2020.

The tribunal heard he was leading a physical education class when he “spoke to the children in an unprofessional manner, causing the children to feel angry or humiliated and a vulnerable male child – referred to as a” G “- crying”. The court heard that ‘G’ had ADHD.

Mr Brelsford divided the children into boys ‘and girls’ teams, but because there were not enough girls, he asked some of the boys to act as girls.

He gave the boys “maiden names”, which annoyed “G”. Mr Brelsford then called G a “baby” which made his classmates laugh, which made him even angrier. The school considered this to be a violation of its Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct.

Then-Headmistress Delia Evans said, “I worry that, despite previous training and warnings, John does not see that his behavior is unprofessional and what he is doing wrong.” She recommended that a formal disciplinary hearing be considered further.

That took place in January 2021 when Mr Brelsford alleged that the reason he had been investigated on eleven separate occasions was a “conspiracy to remove him”. He was released the next day.

Labor judge Chris McAvoy-Newns dismissed the unfair dismissal complaint.

He added, “I think so [Mr Brelsford] Dismissed for conduct and not because Mr. Truby or Ms. Evans had personal vengeance against him.

“While there is some evidence that Mr Truby lost patience with him well before January 2021, I think it likely that they would have escalated the dismissal process much faster than they did if there had been such a vengeance.

“There have been a significant number of incidents related to [Mr Brelsford] from February 2017. Those affected [his] Behavior towards children, especially the way he talked to them or interacted with them …

“Although none of the incidents that led to the disciplinary warnings were exactly the same, they all had the same topic and were related to” [Mr Brelsford’s] Behavior with children that the [school] considered inappropriate. “


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