A FORMER lecturer claims she felt unsupported by management in dealing with threatening and disruptive students.
She feared some students might attack her – and suspected that a member of staff bought narcotics from drug-using students.
Annabel Cooper of Capenhurst Lane, Capenhurst, made the claims against West Cheshire College at an employment tribunal in Liverpool.
The science lecturer, who developed mental health problems and resigned after 27 years, alleges unfair constructive dismissal and a breach of the Disability Discrimination Act.
Ms Cooper started as a chemistry technician at the Chester campus in 1982 but worked at the Capenhurst site in recent years.
She told the tribunal she felt 'bullied' by line manager Liz McIntosh who was appointed in September 2007.
Ms Cooper said she was 'given mainly lower level students' some of whom were 'very difficult and aggressive' and appeared to have 'no desire' to be in college.
She claimed no additional support was provided despite raising concerns.
Ms Cooper said: "In fact, I found Liz became quite confrontational whenever I saw her and would often raise her voice when speaking with me. She would constantly undermine me and I felt that complaining about my concerns with the students had led to more anxiety for me rather than to receiving support."
Ms Cooper was 'signed off'' with work-related stress in February 2008 but said the college offered no support during the period of absence.
On returning in the September, she claimed to be doing 'much more work' than she was contracted to do.
Important files relating to her work as a qualification manager, including the certificate of approval to run the course, had been removed, making her feel as though she had not been expected back.
Arrangements were made for a classroom assistant to accompany Ms Cooper during the more difficult classes but his attendance was 'sporadic'.
Her concerns grew that some students were on drugs with claims that a member of staff had even bought narcotics from them, which she reported, but claims to have been advised 'not to say any more' by a manager concerned the employee may be disciplined or sacked.
There were staff discussions about whether students 'had knives in their pocket'.
During one practical session, a male student picked up a stainless steel bar that was being handed around as part of the lesson, but in a threatening manner.
Ms Cooper said: "Robert said it would be good for killing someone such as teachers. He looked straight at me in an intimidating manner and hit the palm of his hand repeatedly with the bar. I was very frightened by this."
Matters came to a head on January 23, 2009, during an incident when a student punched a classroom assistant in the side with a pen, another knocked a computer monitor off a table and others left the lesson without permission. Ms Cooper said she was berated by Miss McIntosh for allowing them to leave.
Ms Cooper was signed off work and resigned two years ago on April 14 from a job she had loved, feeling she could not put herself back into that situation 'without assurances that things would change'.
The tribunal heard she had lost confidence. She won't go into town unless accompanied or visit local shops for fear of bumping into students she used to teach. She is frightened whenever she sees teenage boys.
The tribunal continues.