14/08/2014 12:54 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Nursery Teacher Who Was Told Not To Speak Polish Awarded £7,000

Group of kids playing together with their young nursery teacher.

A nursery school teacher has won a £7,000 payout after she was banned from speaking Polish at work.

Mum-of-four Barbara Jurga, 56, said deputy head Lisa Howes branded her native tongue 'one of those weird languages' – despite the fact that many of the children Barbara taught were Polish.

The nursery teacher, who was born in Poznan, Poland, said their parents spoke to her in Polish and asked her to help their children by using the language when necessary.

But Ms Howes banned her from speaking any Polish - even to colleagues when on her break.

Barbara eventually quit Lavendale Montessori nursery school in Woodside Park, north London, after her complaints to the owners fell on deaf ears.

However, when she brought a tribunal claim, one of the owners, Neil Todd, sent her 'intimidating' letters.

A panel at Watford employment tribunal found the school guilty of race discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

The school agreed to pay Barbara £7,000 in compensation for injury to feelings.

Barbara, of Burnt Oak, settled in the UK in 1991 and joined the school in 2009.

She complained to the owners in 2011 that Ms Howes had instructed her: "No Polish language to be spoken in the nursery."

Ms Howes told the tribunal she considered it 'rude and exclusionary' for staff to speak to each other in Polish during breaks.

But Barbara insisted it was a 'fundamental right' of staff to use their preferred language in their free time away from the classroom.

She now works at another nursery school and said: "I feel that finally justice has been done."

The school declined to comment on the judgment.