Sacked teacher barred over cruel comments

A DEPUTY headteacher who was sacked for saying that pupils with special needs should be left to rot has been barred from teaching children under the age of 14.

Paul Packer, 39, who was dismissed from his post at Robert Sandilands primary in Newbury, Berkshire, last June, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by the General Teaching Council earlier this month.

Teachers at the 200-pupil school, which caters for around 50 special-needs pupils, told the GTC that Mr Packer told a colleague: "I hate special-needs children. Let them rot."

The GTC also heard that Mr Packer, of Didcot in Oxfordshire, said "I hate you," to a child whose parents had failed to pick her up at the end of the day, shouted: "I hate you, I want to kill you," at another pupil, and sniggered at pupils who had difficulty performing music at school assemblies.

Teacher Jeremy Spencer told the council how Mr Packer, who joined the school in 1993 and had special responsibility for key stage 2, undermined the authority of headteacher Richard Blofeld by telling a group of pupils on a school trip to Derbyshire: "No Mr Blofeld - let's have the time of our life."

The council members also found that he failed to provide adequate support for newly-qualified and junior teachers.

Mr Blofeld said the school's board of governors felt it had no option but to dismiss Mr Packer after a two-month suspension following complaints from parents and staff.

"It became obvious that Mr Packer's dismissal was entirely necessary for the well-being of pupils and staff at the school," he said.

"There were times when Mr Packer and I worked effectively together and he did make some valuable contributions to the school, particularly with regard to teaching music, but the situation became untenable."

Mr Packer, who denies the allegations about his conduct between September 1998 and March 2001, is now pursuing a claim for unfair dismissal and declined to comment.

A spokesman for the GTC said: "It was Mr Packer's responsibility to ensure the well-being, progress and happiness of pupils in his care.

"The way in which he spoke to and about children and his failure to follow procedure was clearly unacceptable.

"The ban on teaching pupils below Year 9 does not rule out the possibility that he could retrain as a secondary school teacher as he is still on the register as able to teach children above Y9. However, this decision is now accessible by employers via the register."

A spokesman for the National Association for Special Educational Needs added: "This teacher demonstrated an appalling attitude towards the very children who needed the greatest care and support, and we wholly endorse this decision."

Mr Packer got on well with children who were academically gifted or musical but was not willing to invest effort in supporting the less able, Mr Blofeld told the hearing.

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