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GTC spares teacher sacked for arrogance towards parents

A TEACHER sacked by governors for acting unprofessionally in a meeting with parents has been told she can continue teaching.

Hazel Cheetham, 59, was reprimanded after being accused of "rolling her eyes, fidgeting and being arrogant" in a meeting with the parents of a nine-year-old boy with behaviour problems.

The General Teaching Council for England heard that Mrs Cheetham, a teacher at Northfield Manor primary, Birmingham, since 1998, had been asked to fill in record sheets to monitor the boy's behaviour. The pupil, referred to as Child D, had "serious problems", but was responding well to the programme.

Witness Hayley Burke, school behaviour co-ordinator, said Mrs Cheetham had complained that the sheets took too much time to fill in, and commented:

"(Child D) can have great pleasure in setting me extra work."

She said that during the meeting with his parents, Mrs Cheetham was "rolling her eyes, fidgeting and was arrogant in her comebacks to questions".

She added: "The mother of Child D asked Mrs Cheetham to leave the meeting, and then said she wanted me to help her remove her son from the class, and the school if necessary." But Mrs Cheetham tearfully told the panel she felt under scrutiny by the parents, and that any fidgeting had been nervousness.

Mrs Cheetham, now teaching at a school in her home county of Warwickshire, said the parents had been dominant from the outset of the meeting, with the father telling her: "My son has no respect for you."

She added that the school had been looking for ways to "push her out" because of her age.

But Alan Blake, headteacher at Northfield Manor, said that Mrs Cheetham was dismissed because she had received a written warning for a "very similar incident".

David Dewhirst, chairing the hearing, said the panel dismissed the accusation that Mrs Cheetham acted unprofessionally during the meeting, adding that they were "not satisfied the behaviour system in the school was of a high standard".

He said that a second allegation - of making two 10-year-old pupils carry school cookers up a flight of stairs - amounted to unprofessional conduct.

But, he concluded, "in light of her long service and excellent testimonies and practice, we will not be imposing any sanction".

After the hearing, Mrs Cheetham told The TES: "I am glad it is all over and I would just like to say thanks to all the colleagues, parents and friends who supported me."

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