Banned: Teacher who held pupil upside down by his legs

Alternative-provision teacher banned for life after calling pupil 'little shit' and referring to colleague as 'gay boy'

Teacher banned

A teacher who dangled a pupil upside down by his legs and pinned a second child against a wall by the throat has been permanently banned from the profession.

Nick Lucas, a former phase lead for key stage 2 at Denewood and Unity Academies in Nottingham, an alternative provision school, also called a pupil "a little shit" and verbally abused fellow staff members, a Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) panel found.

The 48-year-old was found to have pulled a pupil, described as "small and tiny" by a witness, from under a table by his ankles and held him upside down, causing his head to hit the floor, in a move considered by the panel to be "inappropriate in any situation".

A former colleague described the moment she walked into a room to find Mr Lucas holding the pupil upside down, as the boy screamed "my head, my head".

The witness told the panel that she thought the pupil had "broken his neck", and described how his head "just slammed the floor". 

The allegations, relating to an incident said to have taken place on or around 25 April 2017, were found proven by the panel.

Mr Lucas was also found guilty of holding a pupil against a wall by the throat, before telling a colleague "you didn't see that".

Teacher held pupil by the throat

The panel heard evidence from the colleague in question, who witnessed the incident through a window in the door.

The colleague described the moment Mr Lucas used his hand to push the child against the wall and held it to the lower part of his throat, adding that it was "the worst thing I have ever seen".

The panel agreed that the evidence, including CCTV footage, provided sufficient proof of the allegations.

In addition, Mr Lucas was found to have sworn in front of pupils on a number of occasions.

In one case, it was claimed that Mr Lucas told a pupil "you're fucking going in", when the child in question refused to go to assembly.

And on a separate occasion, he was found to have called a pupil a "little shit", or words to that effect, after he hurt his knee while holding the child.

He was also accused of swearing in front of staff, and allegedly told a colleague to "take your fucking scarf off".

It was claimed that “everyone was scared” of Mr Lucas because he had "connections with the senior management of the school".

The panel heard that, on one occasion, a teacher was seen crying "because she was afraid that she was going to lose her job", and a colleague was "reduced to tears" because of Mr Lucas' "constant bullying".

Mr Lucas was also found to have spoken to a female colleague in a "derogatory" manner – describing her as "venereal" in front of the children, saying she had a "big bum", and making negative comments about the "way she dressed".

And it was claimed that he made homophobic references to a fellow staff member, referring to him as "a gay boy", and making comments about him "wearing a dress at the weekend".

The panel heard that Mr Lucas told a member of staff, who later resigned, that he would "make her life hell". 

In addition, Mr Lucas was found guilty of verbally abusing members of staff, and acting in an "aggressive" manner.

It was claimed he told a colleague to "come here and do this", to which she responded "just a minute". Mr Lucas then allegedly shouted back "don’t fucking talk back and do what I am asking you to do".

All allegations of foul language, bullying and verbal abuse were found proven by the panel.

Mr Lucas was suspended from the school after a colleague submitted a formal grievance in June 2017. He was then dismissed in May 2018, following a disciplinary investigation.

He attempted to appeal the school's decision, but was unsuccessful.

Overall, Mr Lucas was found guilty of "failing to maintain high standards of behaviour when engaging with fellow colleagues"; "failing to have regard to the need to safeguard and protect pupils’ wellbeing"; and "failing to have proper and professional regard for the ethos, policies and practices of the school".

The panel noted a number of mitigating factors, including Mr Lucas' "ongoing medical conditions", the details of which were redacted; failure by senior leadership to investigate allegations of bullying; increased pressure by leaders to show pupils' progress; a lack of training for Mr Lucas as a member of the middle leadership team; and a "culture of banter" that was prevalent in KS2.

However, the panel said, having had regard to the mitigation, it did not believe this "excuses Mr Lucas' behaviour".

It said: "Mr Lucas, as an experienced middle leader, should not have needed to have been told that he should have modified his behaviour. As team leader of key stage 2, it was Mr Lucas’ responsibility to set the correct professional tone and appropriate team culture."

It added that Mr Lucas showed "limited insight and understanding of the impact of his actions".

The panel, therefore, recommended that Mr Lucas should be banned from the profession indefinitely, with no provisions for a review period.

Its decision was upheld by Alan Meyrick, decision-maker on behalf of the secretary of state for education.

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

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