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Ban for weak disciplinarian

A teacher whose classroom control was so poor that pupils became violent has been banned from teaching until she completes appropriate retraining.

Helena Gill, who taught at Keighley St Andrew's Church of England primary and nursery, Keighley, West Yorkshire, has been found guilty of serious professional incompetence.

England's General Teaching Council banned Mrs Gill, who has been a teacher for nearly 30 years, from teaching for a minimum of six months.

It found that she failed to maintain good order and discipline, to plan and prepare lessons effectively and to set appropriate learning objectives between September 1999 and September 2003.

The disciplinary hearing in Birmingham heard that although the 450-pupil school had serious weaknesses, there had been a real willingness to offer Mrs Gill help and support.

She had been placed at St Andrew's as a Year 5 tutor in September 1999 following the reorganisation of schools in nearby Bradford.

Christine Clarke, headteacher, said it was noticeable that Mrs Gill did not share the zest of other teachers who moved to the school and within months there were concerns about her.

She said that Mrs Gill's inability to set challenging tasks led to poor pupil behaviour and suggested that a fight which broke out among a group of boys in March 2000 showed she was also not following school policy.

Mrs Gill also failed to meet deadlines for pupil assessment, unlike all other members of staff - eventually handing in incomplete assessments.

The following year Mrs Gill was given a Year 5 class described by Juliet Wright, the deputy head, as the best-behaved and calmest class as well as additional support from the senior management team.

Despite this, a class observation in November 2000 by the head and a council inspector found that children were lying across desks and throwing pens around.

More poor lessons were observed throughout the year and into the next academic year and in autumn 2001 Mrs Gill took an extended sick leave due to depression.

In the summer of 2001, the school was inspected by Ofsted which found it to have serious weaknesses. It was given a clean bill of health in 2003.

Mrs Gill returned to the school in June 2002, on a phased re-entry. She worked alongside a mentor and was relieved of her duty as the Sat co-ordinator. Yet poor planning still led to disruptive behaviour and a lack of attainment.

In November 2002 a formal capability procedure was initiated and Mrs Gill again went on long-term sick leave until June 2003.

She did not attend nor was represented at last week's disciplinary hearing and resigned in September 2003.


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