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Second chance for failed teacher

A newly-qualified teacher who failed his induction year has been given a second chance.

England's General Teaching Council upheld an appeal by John Stewart against the decision to fail him and said he should have two more terms to prove himself.

It said Mr Stewart, who worked at Henshaw Church of England first school, a small rural school in Northumberland, had not been given enough support, putting him at a serious disadvantage.

He is not in work at the moment but will be given two more terms to reach the standard to pass his induction in his next job.

The council heard that Mr Stewart had not had access to independent advice and support and that Denise Henry, head of the school, had not properly observed induction procedures.

The school has just three teachers, including the head, Mrs Henry, three teaching assistants, a part-time teacher and 65 pupils.

Mr Stewart told the hearing in Birmingham last week that although his initial autumn term at Henshaw in 2003 seemed to go well he felt isolated, despite frequent meetings with the head.

"There was no other teacher at the key stage level that I was working at to ask for help," he said.

By March Mr Stewart became aware there were problems when Mrs Henry told him she had serious concerns about his lesson planning. After the meeting he went on paternity leave.

On Mr Stewart's return he met Sherayyn Pinner, school improvement adviser for Northumberland county council, who told him that he was likely to fail his induction year.

"She told me my various options, including resigning so that I could gain more experience as a supply teacher, before finishing my induction with a final term at another school," said Mr Stewart. "It came as a total surprise. I was in a state of shock."

Mrs Henry told the GTC that Mr Stewart's first term had been successful, that she had met him fortnightly to discuss his progress and problems with planning were dealt with positively.

"There was no indication that anyone was unhappy at this stage," she said.

But by the summer term, things had deteriorated and Mr Stewart was away ill with a recurring kidney complaint, which his GP said was bought on by stress.

Mr Stewart said: "My working relationship with the head was strained.

Looking back I think from March to April I wanted to make progress, but ...

was ill in May. My GP told me not to go back to work, but I wanted to finish the job."

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