Former teacher at prestigious Dublin school claims she was penalised after raising concerns about student discipline

Students at Templeogue College felt they ‘had the run of the place’, and a number of serious incidents were not properly dealt with, WRC hears

A former teacher at a prestigious Dublin secondary school has claimed she was penalised after she and her colleagues raised concerns about student discipline, including an alleged assault on her and the secret filming of a woman teacher’s “backside”.

Jennifer Clancy, a Spanish teacher with 20 years’ experience, told her counsel Conor Duff BL at the Workplace Relations Commission that students at Templeogue College had begun to feel they had “the run of the place” after a number of serious incidents were, in Ms Clancy’s opinion, not properly dealt with by the school principal, Niamh Quinn.

She said the Spiritan-run school did not feel safe and she likened it to a “ticking time bomb” where teachers were waiting for the next serious incident to happen.

Ms Clancy also alleges that her employment contract was altered using Tipp-Ex to state that she was on an annual contract rather than, as she thought, a permanent contract. She said her timetable was altered in “retaliation” against her after she and 10 other teachers signed a grievance document outlining 17 concerns they had about how the school was being run, including the breakdown in discipline.


The new timetable was impossible, she said, because it required her to work in the afternoons when she had to pick up her young children.

Ms Clancy gave evidence that she had originally agreed to work at the school in 2018 on the basis that she could avoid afternoon classes at least four days out of five. This arrangement lasted until September 2022 when Ms Quinn altered her timetable so that she would have predominantly afternoon classes, she said. She accused Ms Quinn of being aggressive and shouting at her during a meeting in which Ms Clancy hoped to resolve the timetable issue. She said Ms Quinn told her that the timetable was non-negotiable and Ms Clancy alleged Ms Quinn’s tone was “curt, very cold and matter-of-fact”.

She said she felt “ambushed” by Ms Quinn and the deputy principal, who she said focused the meeting on an allegation that Ms Clancy had failed to attend for the second half of a training meeting the previous day rather than on the timetable. Ms Clancy said as a part-time teacher, she was not required to attend the full day of training.

Ms Clancy received an e-letter from the principal after the meeting calling her to a disciplinary meeting the following Monday. Ms Clancy said she asked six times for details of what the disciplinary meeting was about, but did not receive an explanation.

When she later initiated her own grievance procedure regarding her treatment, she said Ms Quinn used a false timetable to suggest that she had previously worked in the afternoons. She also said Ms Quinn had “made up” a quote purporting to be from a Department of Education circular stating that acceptance of an offer of employment cannot be conditional on timetable concessions.

Having completed four stages of a grievance procedure with the school and board of management, Ms Clancy said she feels drained. She said she had not received a fair hearing at any stage and that she “wouldn’t wish it on anyone to go through what I went through”.

As a result of ill-health due to stress, Ms Clancy went on sick leave in September 2022. She returned to work the following December but in January 2023 decided to take a career break. The school wrote to her, stating that the career break was contingent on the school hiring someone to fulfil her role. She was told she would have a response by March but when no response arrived, she resigned her position on July 3rd, 2023 by email.

Four hours after she sent her resignation email, she received an email congratulating her on her career break. “That was the last communication I had from the school,” she said.

When asked why she resigned, she said: “It wasn’t worth staying. I couldn’t take it any more, I had been to hell and back. I was so sad to leave because I had such brilliant colleagues and students, I had a great working relationship with the students and teachers. I saw the rest of my teaching career in Templeogue College so I was really sad to leave, but I felt I had no other option.”

Ms Clancy will be cross-examined by counsel for Tom Sheridan, the manager of the board of management of Templeogue College on Wednesday.

She has made two complaints of penalisation under the Protected Disclosures Act and one under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Ms Clancy told Mr Duff she moved to Templeogue College in September 2018 having worked for more than 12 years at St Fintan’s in Sutton. She agreed with the then principal that she would job-share – working 11 hours per week, predominantly on morning classes so that she could look after her children in the afternoons. Ms Quinn was appointed principal in 2019 and initially Ms Clancy said they had a positive working relationship.

In February 2022, Ms Clancy said a number of meetings of the teachers’ union, ASTI, resulted in 11 teachers, including herself, signing a document raising 17 issues with what was happening in the school. Some teachers were concerned that CCTV had been used to monitor them without their consent and there were further allegations regarding the right to disconnect from work, bullying and harassment and the conduct of staff meetings. However, Ms Clancy said disciplinary issues among students were the catalyst for many of the teachers who signed the grievance document.

In 2020, Ms Clancy experienced what she called the most serious incident of her career when she told a student to hand over his mobile phone. He initially refused and when she insisted, he threw the phone at her, striking her in the chest. She was “shocked, taken aback” and immediately brought it to the attention of senior management. “I expected it to be dealt with,” she said, “but what transpired was he was given an internal suspension, which was a new thing brought in by Ms Quinn.”

She said these suspensions were served in a school study room which was sometimes unsupervised, rather than at home. She recalled the student arriving at school the following day, “smirking” at her in the corridor.

On another occasion a student filmed a woman teacher’s “backside” as the teacher walked along a school corridor. The teacher was later informed by a student and “fought and fought” to have the issue dealt with but still feels the boy did not receive an appropriate sanction, Ms Clancy said.

Ms Clancy described the video as a “huge breach of dignity in the workplace” and said the principal failed to deal properly with that and other issues, including a student telling a teacher to “f**k off”. She said discipline had broken down so much that students would ask to be sent to the principal’s office.

The hearing continues on Wednesday.