Indian headteacher forced to quit her job due to bullying

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wpbully200Indian headteacher Sudhana Singh has told a tribunal how she was hounded out of her job at Moorlands primary school in Tilehurst, Reading, by a ‘playground mafia’ of prejudiced parents.

One man was heard to say “bloody Indian woman should not be in charge of our children” while children were reported gossiping that their parents “hated blacks.”

Details of the racist remarks, made at the school which caters for children from five to 11 years, were given to the tribunal.

Traumatised Mrs Singh, a teacher with 20 years experience, claimed that she experienced “deeply rooted racist views” when she took over as headteacher.

One supporter of the unpopular head was branded a “Paki lover,” the tribunal heard.

Mrs Singh is suing the local authority and the Governors of Moorlands Primary School after she claims she was subjected to a campaign of unlawful race discrimination, bullying and harassment.

“I believe that the campaign to remove me from my post was, in substantial part, related to my ethnic origins,” she said in her statement read by the tribunal.

“The degree of resistance and hostility I was met with was much greater than would otherwise have been the case but for my racial origins,”

“In respect of these problems both respondents failed to provide appropriate level of support but essentially adopted an approach which was detrimental to me and was less favourable compared with the way a headteacher from a different had and would have been treated.”

The abuse caused her ‘high levels of stress, anxiety and deep unhappiness’ and she received ‘no support’ from school governors when she was bombarded with complaints and ‘malicious letters’.

Lord Justice Lewison said ‘serious difficulties’ arose in her relationship with governors, staff and parents and Ms Singh claimed that her attempts to strategically manage the school were ‘right from the start met with hostility and aggression’.
The 45-year-old claims the governors and Reading Borough Council “deliberately endorsed a targeted campaign of discrimination, bullying, harassment and victimisation against her as an Asian headteacher” with the objective of forcing her from her post.

The judge said the governors and the council denied those accusations, insisting that the grave breakdown in relationships “was due to Ms Singh’s autocratic style of leadership and her poor communication skills”.
She had been head for less than a year when, in June 2010, the council received a petition signed by 170 parents expressing no confidence in her. An investigator was appointed who described Moorlands as “a school at risk” with “an air of chaos” about it.

She was still in the job when she lodged complaints of race discrimination, harassment and victimisation against the governors and the council with an employment tribunal in September 2010.
She finally resigned last year, saying that the “final straw” came when a colleague at the school – senior teacher, Sue Heath, with whom she had always enjoyed a good relationship – put in a witness statement supporting the case against her.

She was signed off sick by her GP in October 2010 and was later diagnosed with depression in a severe form and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

“I have completely lost my confidence as a headteacher and feel unable to ever work again in the school,” said Mrs Singh.

“I have always enjoyed excellent mental health my entire life and the events at Moorlands Primary School have changed my life completely.”

The hearing is expected to last 15 days.

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