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Star Southend headteacher sacked for gross misconduct
10:30am Wednesday 28th November 2012 in Southend
A HEADTEACHER who was praised for turning around a struggling school has been sacked for gross misconduct.
Elizabeth Baines was suspended from the Priory School, in Burr Hill Chase, Southend, in January amid allegations of bullying and financial mismanagement.
She has now been told by Southend Council that she will be dismissed, following an 11-month investigation.
Mrs Baines, who took charge of the school in 2010, was credited with triggering a 400 per cent improvement in pupils’ exam results.
Her husband said she may now consider taking the council to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.
Mrs Baines said: “I do not feel I have done anything wrong.
“I have worked hard and been totally committed to the school, the staff and the children.
“I feel very sorry for them all, particularly the staff, many of whom have been very supportive.”
The Priory caters for youngsters who have failed to fit in at mainstream schools.
Before Mrs Baines arrived in January 2010, after spending 13 years teaching in Cornwall, pupils’ attendance levels were poor and many struggled to gain decent qualifications.
In 2007, the average pupil at the school scored 29.8 points in the vocational Asdan exams – the equivalent of one E-grade at GCSE level.
By the summer of 2010, just a few months after Ms Baines arrived, the average mark had increased to 166.8 points, the same as four B-grades.
However, since she was suspended, the school has been plunged back into special measures by education watchdog Ofsted.
Staff were told about Mrs Baines’s fate yesterday, following a final meeting of the school’s disciplinary panel last week.
Sue Cook, the council’s corporate director for children and learning, said: “Elizabeth Baines has been notified by the disciplinary panel that she is to be dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.
“It should be noted that she has a right of appeal and, as a result, neither the board of governors nor the council is able to make any further comment at this stage.
“This has been a particularly difficult time for the school staff but every effort has been made to ensure that the children’s education has remained the focus of attention.
“The council has put effective interim arrangements in place at Priory School and these will continue for the immediate future.”