Friday, August 02, 2013

British grade-school dinner lady sacked for 'negligence, carelessness or idleness' after she accidentally served ham to a Muslim pupil

Even though the kid asked for it!

A primary school dinner lady has been sacked for accidentally serving pork to a Muslim pupil.  Alison Waldock, 51, 'forgot' the seven-year-old dietary needs when she asked if the schoolgirl wanted gammon and the youngster said yes.

The school's headteacher spotted the mistake as the youngster was about to tuck into the meat and swept the plate away from her.

The girl's parents were then told how close their daughter had come to eating the meat, which is banned in their religion.

They complained to the school's catering firm and Ms Waldock, a dinner lady for 11 years, was suspended pending an investigation.

She insisted she had made an honest mistake and had simply lost track of all the dietary requirements of the children at Queen Edith Primary School in Cambridge.

But she was dismissed a month later for gross misconduct due to 'negligence, carelessness or idleness'.

Ms Waldock, a mother-of-two, said: 'I feel the school and catering company made me a scapegoat so they can't be seen as politically incorrect.

'I was really upset when I found out what I'd done. I'd never have done something like this on purpose. It was a simple mistake - I was so gutted with the school's reaction.

'I'm now too scared to take any similar catering jobs with the council.  'I don't think I will ever work as a dinner lady again. I don't want to go through all this again - it has been horrible.'

Ms Waldock, of Cambridge, added there were around 40 pupils with various dietary requirements and it was impossible to keep track of them with the lists she was given.

British Muslim groups said Ms Waldock's sacking was 'heavy-handed' and an 'overreaction'.  Inayat Buglawala of campaign group Muslim4UK said: 'Mistakes occasionally happen. I'm sure the overwhelming majority of Muslim parents would be understanding.  'Dismissing a dinner lady for inadvertently serving pig meat is an overreaction.

'The most sensible way to rectify such mistakes is to improve awareness of the pupils' dietary requirements while apologising to the pupils and their parents.'

Ms Waldock said she immediately apologised after realising her error.  She said: 'I went out and apologised to the headteacher, who was obviously annoyed. I said I was sorry and that it was a mistake.

'A week later there was an investigation and I was told that the school did not want me on site.  'I was gobsmacked. I haven't been back since. I feel so let down by the school. I had worked there a long time. I just made a mistake and I am sorry.'

Lunchtime UK operations director Peter McAleese said: 'Anyone losing their job is regretful. But there was a full and transparent procedure that Alison went through - as well as an appeals procedure which she lost.'

A spokesperson for Lunchtime UK added: 'Following an incident involving Alison Waldock at one of our schools a full investigation was carried out prior to suspending her on full pay.

'A standard disciplinary procedure ensured which resulted in Alison Waldock being dismissed for gross misconduct.

'She was represented by the GMB union throughout the whole procedure and is now entitled to appeal through the tribunal system.'

But headteacher of Queen Edith Primary School said this was not the first time Ms Waldock had made a mistake over pupils' dietary requirements.

Head Teacher Caroline Peet, said: 'We understand from Lunchtime UK that this was not a one off event and due to the significant number of children involved the company treated the issue with the seriousness it deserved.

'As her employer it was wholly up to Lunchtime UK to decide what appropriate action to take.

'The school reflects and celebrates the diverse cultures that make up the community it serves and respects the beliefs and values of our children and parents.'

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: 'I feel desperately sorry for her. If she'd served gammon to a vegetarian would she have been fired? I think not.'


Most British  free schools (charters) rated 'good' or 'outstanding'

Three-quarters of the Government’s flagship “free schools” have been awarded the highest marks in official inspections, it emerged today.

New figures show that 18 out of 24 schools opened as part of the Coalition’s controversial education reform programme have been rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

The disclosure is being seen by ministers as an official vindication of the policy in the face of heavy criticism by teaching unions.

Under the reforms, a new generation of taxpayer-funded schools are run by parents’ groups, teachers, charities and faith organisations completely free of local authority control.

Unions claim free schools lack proper local accountability and have been placed in the hands of unsuitable organisations. It has also been claimed that some have been allowed to open in towns with an existing surplus of places – pulling pupils away from other schools in the area.

But the Department for Education said the results were an "encouraging start" to the programme, even though five of the schools “require improvement” and one was declared “inadequate” by inspectors.

The DfE insisted that those given a low rating would be closed or placed in the hands of another top performing head teacher if they fail to improve.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said: "Too often the best schools are only available to the rich who can afford to go private or pay for an expensive house in the catchment area of a good school.

"Free schools are giving all parents - not just the rich - the choice of a high quality school with great teaching and strong discipline."

Some 24 free schools were opened in 2011 – the first year of the programme.

All of these schools have now been inspected by Ofsted. Of those, four were rated outstanding, 14 good, five require improvement and one was inadequate.

The figures are roughly in line with the ratings given to all state schools across England.

Ofsted data shows that – as of March 31 – some 22 per cent of state schools are outstanding and 57 per cent were good.

In total, there are now 81 open free schools, with another 200 set to open from September onwards. They will eventually cater for around 130,000 pupils.

Natalie Evans, director of the New Schools Network, a charity set up to help drive the programme, said: “This year’s report card shows a strong set of results for the first Free Schools. These schools are pioneers in every sense and to achieve a good or outstanding Ofsted judgment in just two years, having set up a school from scratch, is very impressive.

“Free Schools that were open at the start of this academic year received an average of three applications for every place for the coming September – demonstrating a huge demand for these great new schools. I am sure that these results will only serve to intensify their popularity.”


Australia: State govt. Slams Federal Technical College Takeover Bid

Kevin Rudd’s latest plot to takeover Queensland’s TAFEs has been panned by Education, Training and Employment Minister John-Paul Langbroek.

Mr Langbroek said Kevin Rudd has just two answers to any policy question, throw more money at it or take it over.

“Mr Rudd wanted to take over hospitals a few years ago, but instead stood idly by while $103 million in Federal funding was ripped out of Queensland’s health system,” Mr Langbroek said.

“Now Kevin Rudd is in the process of trying to take over schools while today’s thought bubble is a TAFE takeover.

“After what he did to Pink Batts, the Carbon Tax, the School Halls shambles and other policy disasters, we don’t want him anywhere near Queensland’s TAFEs.”

Mr Langbroek said the Prime Minister wanted to accumulate responsibilities like properties on a monopoly board.

“The last thing we need to address a skills shortage is a federal takeover of TAFE,” he said.

“Time and time again, Kevin Rudd has proved his ineptitude at managing policy implementation.

“Queenslanders can’t afford for him to tamper with TAFE and jeopardise the quality of our training.”

Mr Langbroek said the Newman Government had released a detailed action plan for Vocational Education and Training in Queensland.

“Great Skills. Real Opportunities is a comprehensive policy response based on recommendations from an industry led taskforce,” he said.

“If we are to continue growing a strong, four pillar economy, Queensland must look at ways of increasing productivity and increasing participation in the workforce.

“To boost productivity and participation we want more Queenslanders gaining quality qualifications that are needed in the economy.

“We are lifting quality by creating a contestable training market which will encourage innovation in service delivery, course content and training outcomes.”

Mr Langbroek said the Federal Government had the opportunity to support these desperately overdue reforms but was resisting at every step of the way.

“We signed a National Partnership on Skills Reform in April 2012, but not one dollar flowed to Queensland for 14 months because the Federal Government played politics with the issue,” he said.


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