Teaching assistant takes school to tribunal in unfair dismissal dispute

A teaching assistant who claims she was unfairly dismissed by her employer is tackling the school that sacked her at an employment tribunal.

Ms Suriyah Bi, 24, was allegedly dismissed from Birmingham’s Heartlands Academy after she made complaints about an upsetting video shown to a class of 11-year-olds which depicted the events of 9/11 in graphic detail.

“I was in the classroom when the video was shown and I quickly objected. Later, I was told to leave the school,” said Ms Bi, commenting on the case.

The teacher, who believes that she was “dismissed for making a whistle-blowing complaint,” said that the video, which showed “planes crashing into the Twin Towers and people committing suicide by jumping to their deaths,” was “X-rated” and inappropriate for the children.

“It was shown to some 30 children during class. These were children aged 11, of whom many knew little, or nothing, about the 9/11 horror,” she said.

“Such young children should not been shown things like that because it is well-known that it can play on their minds and even induce them to kill themselves,” she added.

In opposition, however, Heartlands Academy told a tribunal that the class were studying a poem about a victim of the 9/11 attacks as part of the AQA GCSE syllabus – and that the video acted as an educational accompaniment.

The school added that Ms Bi had made it clear that she no longer wanted to work for Heartlands Academy. Ms Bi was also accused of ‘causing delays’.

But a tribunal Judge granted Ms Bi permission to bring her claims to a full hearing later this year – the date of which is yet to be confirmed.

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Donna Martin

Donna Martin

Partner at Mackrell Turner Garrett
Donna Martin is a partner in the Employment team of Mackrell Turner Garrett’s London office. As an Employment Relations Specialist, she advises both employers and employees on a full range of contentious and non-contentious issues. She joined the firm in 2011 after training and qualifying at Vizards Wyeth Solicitors in London, where she practiced employment law and commercial litigation.