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Faked fits no bar to work

Teacher who exaggerated her epilepsy and threatened head gets conditional registration order. Tara Fawcett reports

A primary teacher who faked up to six epileptic fits a day for more than a year and threatened a head with a pair of scissors has been allowed to continue working by the General Teaching Council for England.

Ms C*, who taught at a school in West Sussex, was given a conditional registration order after the panel decided that some of her fits had been faked or embellished.

She assaulted her headteacher twice during feigned fits, punching her in the mouth on one occasion and threatening her with scissors in a separate incident.

Ms C also pretended she was being considered for the TV reality show Big Brother and asked for leave of absence to participate.

The GTC panel accepted evidence in February from Dr Richard Bowskill, consultant physician at Hove Hospital, that Ms C had a psychiatric disorder and suffered from epilepsy.

Sitting in Birmingham last Friday, the panel also decided that Ms C had fraudulently applied for leave of absence.

During the February hearing the panel heard that Ms C appeared to be having up to six fits a day between February 2001 and May 2002.

The headteacher said: "Ms C would bang her arms and head against the wall, then she would be on the floor thrashing around in a major way, often travelling on her back for three or four metres. She would also be very aggressive to the people around her."

Ms C's colleague said: "Ms C asked me once if I thought that she was psychotic and said if she killed a specified person it would be my fault."

The colleague added that Ms C told her that a religious group had blamed her epilepsy on bad behaviour in a previous life.

The panel was told in the earlier hearing that Ms C started the Big Brother lie in January 2002, telling different people at different times that she had reached the final 50 or final 20 applicants.

She told colleagues she was being hounded by the press and that they were camped outside her house. The headteacher found out Ms C's name had never been entered into the competition after calling the production company in April 2002.

When asked at the earlier hearing about lying to her colleagues, Ms C said: "I believe I applied, but I can't actually remember applying.

During my epileptic episodes I was hearing voices in my head and imagining people following me."

David Dewhirst, GTC panel chairman, said: "We do not believe that Ms C had no control over her behaviour throughout the period.

"Ms C caused immense distress to friends and colleagues and we are at pains to ensure there is no repetition of these events."

In giving a conditional registration order without time limit the committee took into account Ms C's medical condition and her undisputed teaching ability.

Ms C must provide the GTC with evidence that she is following doctors' advice every six months and provide them with an annual statement from each school.

She must also make schools aware of the registration order. She is teaching still but not in a school in West Sussex.

* Name has been changed

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