Teacher working in takeaway received £6,000 in sick pay

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By Christine Lavelle

A SECONDARY school teacher who received more than £6,000 of occupational sick pay from Glasgow City Council was caught working at a family-run takeaway during the three months he was absent.

Depute head of Springburn Academy Gordon Macfarlane received an anonymous tip-off from someone who called the school to report that Abdelhak Kennar was working regularly at the Western Barbecue on Great Western Road, Glasgow.

Mr Macfarlane, 61, spoke with a man claiming his name was ‘Mr Adam’ on three separate occasions in February last year, who said he could provide pictures as proof of Mr Kennar’s indiscretion.

At a hearing of the General Teaching Council, the disciplinary sub-committee heard that Mr Kennar was off work for a period between January and March 2009, and during that time he received three lots of occupational sick pay – each one £2,715.

Mr Kennar, 48, was not present at the hearing, nor did he have legal representation.

Mr Macfarlane, who has now retired after 27 years as depute head, was in charge of the school while head teacher Liz Ervine was off for a hip replacement, but when she returned the phone calls from Mr Adam were directed to her.

Mr Macfarlane said: “He would always phone after school hours – at around 4.30-5pm.

“One night we were out for my retirement dinner and Liz said she had just received a text on her phone with pictures of Mr Kennar working in the takeaway.

“I didn’t look at them that night, but did so about a week later, and I did identify the man in the picture as Mr Kennar, he was standing at the front counter of the shop and you could see a kebab behind him.”

Working regularly

The panel members heard that Mr Adam told the head teacher that Mr Kennar was working at the Western Barbecue every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night at least – whilst maintaining he was too ill to work.

The takeaway is believed to be owned by Mr Kennar and his wife.

Mr Kennar – who is registered to teach modern studies and French – had sent various doctors’ notes to the school, all of which stated he was suffering from depression.

He was called to a meeting with both Ms Ervine and Mr Macfarlane after they received Mr Adam’s accusations, and he admitted working in the takeaway restaurant – but added that it was out of school hours.

Paul Marshall, a solicitor appearing on behalf of the GTC, said: “He failed to be honest and accurate in the information he provided to his employers, therefore I submit that this charge does amount to misconduct.

“I put forward that Mr Kennar should face reprimand.”

‘No hesitation’

Carole Ford, convener of the disciplinary sub-committee, said: “The sub-committee had no hesitation in accepting the evidence of Mr Macfarlane and the record of the meeting as credible and reliable.

She said the subcommittee considered the evidence proven and that Mr Kennar was guilty of misconduct, relevant to his fitness as a teacher.

She said: “In arriving at this decision the sub-committee took into account the perception generated by the respondent teacher working whilst claiming to be unfit to work, without having declared that fact to his employer.

“In all the circumstances the sub-committee considered that the respondent should be reprimanded.”

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