Panel finds Sarah Gillett berated colleagues, lied about a qualification and ‘engineered’ the redundancy of an employeeBullying school boss who told staff they were useless is banned from teaching
The chief executive of an academy for special needs pupils has been banned from teaching for bullying staff after she called them “useless f—ers”.
Sarah Gillett, the former boss of ACE Schools Multi Academy Trust in Plymouth, Devon, was described by staff as “vicious” and “threatening”, a teaching conduct panel heard.
The Trust, which has schools in Devon and Cornwall, specialises in teaching children aged four to 16 with special educational needs.
Ms Gillett, 48, was found guilty of bullying and “unacceptable professional conduct” after it came to light that she had berated staff and lied about a qualification.
The panel also concluded that she “engineered” the redundancy of a member of staff in retaliation for a grievance he had raised about her in summer 2016.
‘I love ya, but I am coming for ya’
The “trigger” for staff escalating concerns was a staff meeting in March 2019 following an Ofsted inspection which had rated the Trust “good” overall and “outstanding” in parts.
The panel heard Ms Gillett, who had taken up her post in July 2016, told staff they had let ACE down and were wasting taxpayers’ money.
She said there was no room in the school for staff who were not performing and that she needed to get rid of people if they were not good enough.
Addressing the entire body of staff, she said: “I love ya, but I am coming for ya” or words to that effect, in what she claimed was a quote from a Turkish film.
The panel heard she used an expletive to tell a meeting of senior leaders they could leave the job if they did not like it.
Ms Gillett had a propensity to send “stinger” or “stinker” emails berating staff, according to the evidence heard.
Gillett ‘lacked integrity’
The conduct panel said her behaviour towards staff constituted bullying.
It said: “Staff felt inhibited from raising any concerns either informally or through the whistleblowing policy and/or grievance policies which in turn may create a serious risk that safeguarding issues are not raised by staff.”
The panel also said she “lacked integrity” by incorrectly saying she had a master’s degree in education.
It found Ms Gillett was: “Aware that she did not hold a master’s degree in education, that she knew that her CV incorrectly stated that she did hold such a qualification and she also knew that misleading information had been placed on the Trust’s website and communicated to the Department of Education.”
Ms Gillett was suspended from her position as chief executive in May 2019 and left the Trust in July 2019 “by way of mutual agreement, prior to any disciplinary hearing taking place”.
The ban means that Ms Gillett is “prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England”.
The panel also heard allegations of favouritism and nepotism but did not find those allegations proven.