A TEACHER who was sacked after telling a disruptive pupil to go into a cupboard has won his claim for unfair and wrongful dismissal.

An employment tribunal found that Abdul Mohammad Basit meant it as a joke and was surprised when the 14-year-old, who liked to play the class clown, took it literally.

When questioned about it later the boy and three of his classmates said he had been in the cupboard for about five minutes, but Basit said it been no more than 10-15 seconds.

Basit, who taught maths at Pleckgate High School in Blackburn, was found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed in March, 2020. His appeal against the decision was rejected.

The tribunal, which was conducted remotely, heard that the incident occurred after the four boys lied about why they were late arriving for Basit’s class.

During the lesson the 14-year-old, identified only as Pupil A, appeared to be dozing so Basit told him to stand at the back of the classroom. He then made a flippant comment which led to the boy getting into the cupboard.

After the lesson the teenager and his friends reported the matter to headteacher Mark Cocker.

They alleged that Pupil A had been forced into the cupboard and that Basit had previously thrown a book at a pupil.

When interviewed, Basit said he regretted making the comment, adding: “I didn’t think he’d actually go in, but he did.....I have a running gag that the cupboard is haunted just to egg on the low-set pupils into working.”

He said the boy was giggling when he came out of the cupboard.

The tribunal found there were several inconsistencies in the children’s versions of events and that in dismissing Basit , who had been at Pleckgate since 2016, not enough weight had been given to the views of his colleagues who praised his professionalism, teaching skills and consistently good appraisals.

Employment Judge Liz Ord said the school governors had also been at fault in not considering the behaviour records of the pupils, part of a class with behavioural issues.

In fact, Pupil A had 364 entries on his behaviour record for abusing staff and pupils and disrupting classes.

“The full behaviour records for the relevant pupils were crucial evidence in the context of this case and, given the seriousness of the potential consequences to the claimant, they should have formed part of the investigation,” said Judge Ord.

The tribunal also heard that Pupil A had told another teacher who told him off that he would “make something up about her”.

Upholding the appeal, the tribunal commented: “For a well-thought-of teacher of good character with a good disciplinary record, dismissal was an extremely harsh sanction and not within the band of reasonable responses.”