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Tower Hamlets school refutes claims it ignored `racist' pupils

PUBLISHED: 17:55 12 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:36 05 October 2010

Former teacher Nicholas Kafouris who is suing an East End school for racial discrimination

Former teacher Nicholas Kafouris who is suing an East End school for racial discrimination

THE former head of an East End school accused of ignoring racial hatred among its Muslim pupils insisted the culprits were always reprimanded . But Jill Hankey admitted at an employment tribunal she should have ensured that former support teacher Nicho

THE former head of an East End school accused of ignoring racial hatred among its Muslim pupils insisted the culprits were always "reprimanded".

But Jill Hankey admitted at an employment tribunal she should have ensured that former support teacher Nicholas Kafouris received an apology from an eight-year-old who insulted him about being a Christian.

Mr Kafouris, 52, is suing Tower Hamlets council, Bigland Green Primary, head teacher and the assistant head for racial discrimination.

He alleges the school ignored his complaints that the kids had made anti-Semitic remarks, openly hailed September 11 hijackers as "heroes" and said they wanted to be Islamic bombers when they grew up.

But Ms Hankey told the Central London Employment Tribunal: "The children were never allowed to get away with making these remarks without being reprimanded."

She added: "After the London bombings children did repeat things they heard from outside school, through siblings or older children.

"And that was dealt with through a lot of discussions with the children and through school assemblies."

The tribunal heard that senior staff regularly said that Mr Kafouris, who taught at the school for 12 years, took the children's remarks "personally" and "would get into arguments with them rather than managing their behaviour."

Mr Kafouris, a Greek Cypriot who lives in Laystall Street in Farringdon claims that because of his complaints the school went on to make a series of allegations against him and he was signed off for stress by his GP in February 2007.

He alleges that on one occasion when he accidently brushed against a boy with his arm, the child replied "Don't touch me, you're a Christian".

He claims that Ms Hankey had told him the pupil was only "winding" him up and she might take it more seriously if the child was older.

Ms Hankey admitted in "hindsight" she should have ensured the pupil apologised to Mr Kafouris but she left it to the school's learning mentor to work with the youngster.

When asked by Mr Kafouris' solicitor Andrew Yiannides whether she condoned the 'racist' remarks Ms Hankey who retired last summer added: "I am not condoning it but I stick with what I said.

"The understanding and maturity of an eight-year-old is not the same as a 15-year-old and has to be treated differently."

The case continues.


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