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Parents' complaints led to suspension

A teacher who prompted 20 complaints from parents and pupils within a fortnight of starting at a new school has been suspended by the General Teaching Council for England.

Stephen Rourke, 51, was found guilty of serious professional incompetence after he failed to plan lessons and undermined the ability of his pupils while employed as a modern languages teacher at Woldgate school in York, between January 2001 and November 2002.

Jeffrey Bower, the head, said an inspectors' report in December 2000 described Mr Rourke's teaching as unsatisfactory. The number of complaints had prompted him to initiate informal capability proceedings in January 2001.

"Parents expressed concerns that children were not progressing far enough and had complained that lack of discipline in the class was preventing them from learning," he said.

Mr Bower called in David Stalk, a modern languages advisor from East Riding council, to observe Mr Rourke's lessons.

In a report in May 2001, Mr Stalk described Mr Rourke's lessons as unsatisfactory and said that the teacher's expectations of the ability of his class were low.

Subsequent observations of Mr Rourke's lessons showed that "tasks were set below the standard that pupils were able to achieve which meant that they were finishing too quickly. Pupils learnt to manipulate this situation to prolong tasks, which meant the pace and quality of learning was insufficient," Mr Stalk added. Mr Rourke, who had been a teacher for 30 years before being appointed at Woldgate, blamed large class sizes for his performance, but resigned before a staff dismissal hearing in November.

He was found guilty of serious professional incompetence and issued with a two-year suspension order.

During this time he must arrange training in classroom management, teaching skills and setting and achieving realistic pupil goals.

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