Banned: Metal-throwing teacher called students 'scum'

School leader who used racially abusive language and threw sheet metal at a student has been banned from teaching

Catherine Lough

Banned

A teacher who threw a piece of sheet metal at a student, made racist comments and referred to learners as "scum" and "thieves" has been banned from the classroom.

Paul Johnson, 56, who taught at Burford School in Oxfordshire, and subsequently at Clarendon Academy, Wiltshire, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by a panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency

Mr Johnson was also found to have used abusive language towards students on several occasions.

On more than one occasion, while he was working as the head of boarding and assistant head at Burford School, Mr Johnson was found to have referred to students from Spain as "thieves" in February 2015.

The panel noted that witness statements from students and staff showed that he was "known to make racial comments and, in particular, comments against Spanish people, both pupils and adults", and Mr Johnson also admitted to having done so in a notice of referral form in late December 2019.

Between 29 June 2015 and 3 July 2015, Mr Johnson was also found to have referred to students as "scum".

Racist comment to student

And whilst working at Clarendon Academy, Mr Johnson received a warning for making a racist comment to a Muslim student, when he suggested the student might have a bomb in his bag on an unknown date between January 2017 and September 2018.

On 3 December 2018, Mr Johnson was also found to have thrown a piece of sheet metal at a student during a Year 10 engineering lesson after the student had shouted and sworn at him.

Mr Johnson admitted to this incident at the academy’s disciplinary meeting and referred to it as a “misjudged action".

While working at Burford School, Mr Johnson was also found to have threatened to send boarding students "home in taxis" on various dates between September 2011 and July 2015.

The panel said that interviews with students "established that [Mr Johnson] made threats to send pupils home in taxis as a means of coercing pupils to behave appropriately, and this was corroborated by interviews with staff".

Mr Johnson admitted to doing so, and he was also found to have been under the influence of alcohol in Burford's boarding house during the same period.

Statements from duty staff members recorded that Mr Johnson "stumbled up the stairs on occasion and displayed slurred speech," and that in one incident, he had "communicated with a parent of a pupil on the telephone at night whilst [he was] under the influence of alcohol, during which [he was] unable to respond and manage this situation appropriately, for example in shouting at the parent and being unprofessional in [his] approach".

Other allegations which were found to be proven against Mr Johnson were that:

  • In May 2012 he had allowed a member of staff to start work at Burford School without requesting their references and employment history, exposing students to potential harm.
  • In July 2013 he authorised a pay grade increase for a member of staff a month before they began to work in that role.
  • On various dates between August 2013 and August 2014, he made payments from the Burford School’s funds for unauthorised purposes.
  • On 18 November 2014, he purchased a laptop for personal use using school funds.
  • On various dates between March 2015 and October 2015, he authorised building renovations without the boarding governors’ approval.
  • He failed to maintain high standards of behaviour and was found to be dishonest.

The panel found that his "conduct amounted to both unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute".

Acting for the secretary of state, Alan Meyrick said he had considered the panel’s comments regarding how "Mr Johnson has not yet demonstrated insight into his behaviour and its consequences. The panel felt that at this moment in time it could not be confident that Mr Johnson would not repeat this behaviour".

Mr Meyrick said that in order to maintain public confidence in the profession, he would ban Mr Johnson from the classroom for five years, with the opportunity to appeal the decision from 4 November 2025.

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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