Smacking case teacher condemns PC culture

Tes Editorial

A physics teacher who slapped one of his 14-year-old girl pupils on the bottom and called her a naughty girl in "a moment of madness" has spoken out against political correctness in the teaching profession.

Trevor Towers, 48, admits he was daft to smack the pupil who was bent over a printer trying to release a paper jam, but said his treatment had been heavy-handed and unfair.

"I am not a pervert or a danger to anyone," Mr Towers told The TES in his defence.

A General Teaching Council for Wales's disciplinary panel found Mr Towers guilty of professional misconduct at a hearing in Cardiff.

The panel decided not to strike him off the teaching register, but he was given a conditional registration order and told to retrain as a teacher.

Mr Towers, who is unemployed, did not attend the hearing. He said he had had enough of the profession and won't return. "I don't think the profession is what it used to be - political correctness has taken over from common sense," he said. "I'm not unhappy to be out of it".

The incident occurred in 2004, when Mr Towers was taking a class at Trevethin Community School in Pontypool, a school where he had taught physics for 17 years. "I was basically child-minding a group of pupils," he said. "It was very relaxed, nothing structured or formal.

"It was a moment of madness. I shouldn't have done it; it was a daft thing to do. I never wanted to cause her any upset and there was no intent; sexual, physical or otherwise".

But the girl's mother said at the hearing her daughter had been depressed over the incident, and had tried to commit suicide.

Mr Towers was suspended following the incident. Police later charged him with indecent and sexual assault. He agreed to be bound over to keep the peace at Cardiff Crown Court in September 2005. He said then he wanted to return to teaching, but in January 2006 he was dismissed for gross misconduct.

He had an otherwise unblemished 22-year teaching career.

Mr Towers also slammed the length of time the case took to be dealt with by the GTCW as "ridiculous", and said the hearing should have been held in private as his name had already been "dragged through the mud" at the court hearing three years ago.

"The process is ridiculously slow," he said.

Headteacher Royston Toon told the GTCW panel he could not trust Mr Towers to be in charge of children again.

Mr Towers, who lives in Newport with his wife Angela, added: "To bring all this up now after all these years is unfair and heavy-handed.

"I have always said what I did was in appropriate."

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