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Pupil reduced to tears for mocking Sir's ringtone

A teacher launched a sustained shouting attack at a pupil who joked about his mobile phone ringtone, even when the child became distressed and began sobbing, a GTC panel heard this week.

Michael Highton singled "pupil A" out for punishment during an evening class at the Plas Menai National Watersports Centre for Wales in Gwynedd, which "demeaned" him in front of his friends, the GTC panel concluded.

Mr Highton, who worked at Palacefields Primary School in Runcorn, Cheshire, at the time of the incident in July 2006, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct but received no other punishment and was allowed to remain on the register.

The GTC panel said it was "concerned" at Mr Highton's "overreaction". He and his class had been on a visit to the centre at the time.

"Whereas a teacher may occasionally 'snap' at a child, this incident was of a different nature," it said. "This was a sustained beration of a child who was obviously distressed. Having initially shouted at the pupil in relation to a trivial matter, where a joke was made by the pupil as to the nature of Mr Highton's ringtone on his mobile phone, Mr Highton continued to shout at the child some five minutes later, when he was clearly distressed and sobbing."

Mr Highton didn't apologise to the boy during the school trip.

"This behaviour seriously demeaned 'pupil A' in front of his peers and other members of staff, and as such was unacceptable professional conduct," the panel said.

In his defence Mr Highton said he had shown "insight" into his actions and submitted evidence of this which included an Ofsted report and testimonials.

Because of this the GTC panel didn't reprimand him.

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