A grievance panel set up by the St. Stephen’s Academy Trust in Much Knowing has recently heard a complaint against an alleged overzealous exercise of authority by the principal, Dr. Gordon King-Wencelas, nicknamed ‘Gord’ King-Wencelas. The complaint was made by his deputy, Vice Principal Heather Page.
Dr. King-Wencelas made a counter-grievance
against his deputy alleging disrespect
bordering on insubordination, for which he
required an apology which was not
forthcoming. He had considered a
disciplinary charge but decided that his
strong belief in good will and good cheer
barred such a course of action.
The events leading to the grievances began on
St Stephen’s School's commemorative day, aptly
named the Feast of Stephen, when
King-Wencelas, fresh from delivering a stirring
speech to the whole school, saw a trespasser
under the bright late afternoon light, crossing
the snow-bound, crisp and even football pitch
carrying branches from the school orchard.
‘The snow lay deep, crisp and even; unlike the good cheer between Dr King-Wenceslas and Ms Page.’
Heather Page identified the man as A. Porman, a former disruptive pupil, who lived in the forest near their sister school, St. Agnes’s. She advised the Principal to exercise his right to seek a court order restraining A. Porman from trespassing on school land and for dishonest appropriation of firewood under the Theft Act 1968.
The Principal, however, was mindful of his recent speech extolling the virtue of St. Stephen’s as a caring community school. He directed Ms. Page to make up a Christmas hamper of goodies to deliver to Porman after school. Ms. Page protested to the Principal that this was not a legitimate requirement in view of her fear of the inclemency of the weather.
But King-Wencelas was of the opinion that if she
followed his lead based on his strong
Christian principles Heather Page would
find that the winter’s rage would freeze her
blood less coldly. She told the grievance panel
that in the event her doubts were confirmed when
she was blown off her feet in the bitter weather whilst
unsuccessfully trying to carry out the task
Against Gordon King-Wencelas’s argument
that the loan of his battery-heated boots
indicated his concern for her welfare, Ms. Page
protested that he had
no right to order her to perform an
activity which, she alleged, ‘froze her blood’.
‘The loan of Mr King-Wenceslas’s heated boots did nothing to assuage Vice Principal Heather Page from launching the grievance.’
The panel heard King-Wencelas’s counter-grievance against his deputy claiming that she lacked basic Christian charity. The panel unanimously took the view that the Principal’s complaint was short on objective criteria. Simply repeating, ‘Look at Jesus’s parables,’ was not deemed sufficient.
The panel members were also dubious about the Principal’s reliance on Ms. Page’s job description, which was based on paragraph 45.2 of the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document 2018, which allows delegation by a Principal. They thought that such a delegation offended the deputy’s right to work-life balance guaranteed by para 52,4. It was not ‘reasonable delegation’ which under para 48.1 of the Conditions of Employment she would be obliged to carry out.
Therefore, the panel of trustees sought a definition of ‘reasonable’ and accepted the ‘Wednesbury’ definition that to be unreasonable the action had to be such that no-one in their right mind would think of doing (Associated Provincial Picture Houses v Wednesbury Corporation 1947).
The panel eventually decided, as most grievance panels do, to compromise, to give six to one and half a dozen to the other.
They concluded that King-Wencelas and Heather page should go together through the rude wind’s loud lament to see Porman dine on their goodies.
The chair of the panel, who fancied himself as a poet, summed up thus;
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.
We wish all of our clients a very Merry Christmas.