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Pupils attacked special school staff

Pupils in Christine Dowson's class were responsible for a third of attacks on staff in one month at the County Durham primary special school where she worked.

They also fought each other, threw dice, money and pencils around the room and used abusive language.

Now Mrs Dowson, who taught at the 55-pupil Walworth primary special school, has been found guilty of serious professional incompetence.

England's General Teaching Council also found the literacy teacher had not managed pupil behaviour adequately or followed behaviour management procedures. Mrs Dowson did not attend the hearing in Birmingham, which heard that she left her support assistant to restrain pupils when they became out of control.

Peter Wallbanks, acting deputy head, said that although Mrs Dowson was petite, she should have been fully aware of physical management methods.

He said Mrs Dowson had initially appeared comfortable in her role after joining the school in February 1999. But she struggled after problems at home.

An Ofsted inspection in January 2000 showed the school had serious weaknesses. A reinspection two months later found the only lesson that was unsatisfactory was one led by Mrs Dowson.

She received a written warning and was placed on capability procedures in March 2003. However, her lessons were still being interrupted by fighting and 34 per cent of all incidents of pupils attacking staff during May 2003 were in Mrs Dowson's lessons. She resigned in October 2003 after a capability hearing in July.

The GTC said Mrs Dowson must complete courses in behaviour management, classroom management and organisation and lesson delivery to ensure pupil progress, by September 2007.

She was cleared of two charges of failing to plan for lessons and failing to undertake professional administrative duties consistently and maintain pupil records.

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