A teacher who came to school under the influence of alcohol and played loud music in his classroom has been banned from the profession for at least two years.
John Stanway, 46, a former science teacher at Hazelwick School in Crawley, West Sussex, was alleged to have taught two lessons under the influence of alcohol on 3 November 2017, one of which was witnessed by two other members of staff.
Mr Stanway was dismissed from his post on 15 January 2018 following an investigation into his conduct.
A professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency found the allegation that Mr Stanway attended school while he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol to be proven.
In December 2017, a letter from an occupational health physician gave a possible medical reason for his behaviour, but the panel was unable to draw any conclusion that this accounted for his behaviour on 3 November.
A teaching assistant said that Mr Stanway “smelt of alcohol” in a witness statement, and this was also reported by Mr Stanway’s human resources manager.
Teacher 'under the influence of alcohol'
The report stated: "Additionally, the HR manager recalled that Mr Stanway smelt of alcohol and that, ‘his behaviour in what he was saying to me was consistent with that of a person who was in fact under the influence of alcohol'."
Mr Stanway admitted that he had drunk alcohol the night before, but the panel “found that Mr Stanway’s evidence was jumbled and contradictory”.
Mr Stanway stated: “I was under the influence of alcohol on 3 November 2017 after drinking the previous evening because it is possible that alcohol remained in my body from the night before.”
Mr Stanway also explained that he may have been hungover, but not under the influence of alcohol: “I woke up late at about 8.05am, got dressed quickly. I did not have time to wash, shower or clean my teeth before I left home. I knew it was past the 7.30am deadline to phone in sick, and I felt too tired and dehydrated to set cover work in time for lesson 1… I didn’t have time to take a shower which would explain why there was a strong smell of alcohol on me as I had spilt a lot of drinks on me and my bed the night before.”
A further allegation that Mr Stanway taught in an inappropriate manner was also found to be proven by the panel.
Mr Stanway admitted to leaving the classroom during his first lesson to get a cup of coffee. He was absent for over ten minutes, asking another member of staff to supervise the class.
She stated: “It was unheard of for a teacher to leave a class to go and make a coffee.
“The irregularity of his behaviour was, in my view, noted by the students, many of whom seemed perplexed about what was going on.”
And a witness stated that Mr Stanway “used his laptop to play pop music through its speakers” during a lesson. The witness reported that “some [students] were going up to the laptop and choosing music to put on”.
Mr Stanway said he had put the radio on after students had finished marking their tests. The panel were conscious that his behaviour demonstrated “unusual or unorthodox classroom practice”, and that the witness said that this “had certainly never occurred before in any of Mr Stanway’s classes”.
The panel also took into account a witness statement reporting that during a lesson “the students were moving around the class, being generally noisy”.
They also heard the evidence of a member of staff acting as a support teacher, who said: “Some of the students were still messing around and many were talking amongst themselves as if the lesson had not got underway…In this respect, Mr Stanway appeared tired and disorganised. I did not think he was exercising his usual level of control over the class… I do not think the class was under any sort of control.”
The panel did not find an allegation that Mr Stanway failed to follow an anticipated lesson plan to be proven. A witness said that at the beginning of his lesson, Mr Stanway said it would be a “book work lesson”, as he “didn’t feel up to it”. He was reminded that he had told students they would be marking a recent exam paper of theirs, and he then handed out the assessment papers to the class. The panel concluded that he did follow the lesson plan, having been reminded of it.
The panel concluded that Mr Stanway’s conduct “fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession”.
“Teaching a class whilst under the influence of alcohol demonstrated a disregard for the wellbeing and safeguarding of students and amounted to significant unprofessional conduct,” the panel said.
The panel recommended a prohibition order with provisions for a review period of 2 years.
Acting for the secretary of state, decision-maker Alan Meyrick said Mr Stanway had shown a “lack of full insight or remorse” concerning his actions.
He accepted the panel’s findings that Mr Stanway’s behaviour amounted to “misconduct of a serious nature which fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession”.
He therefore agreed with the panel and recommended that Mr Stanway be banned from teaching until 2021, when he may apply for the prohibition order to be set aside.