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Teacher failed fifteen times

Observation of experienced science teacher's lessons revealed mobile phones ringing, and pupils shouting and eating crisps. Charlotte Bailey reports

An experienced teacher who failed to maintain discipline in her classroom has been found guilty of serious professional incompetence.

Mobile telephones rang throughout a lesson taken by Maro Crabtree at Beal high school in Ilford, Essex, England's General Teaching Council heard.

Teenagers went into the class shouting, whistling and eating crisps and urged an outside observer to look at another class to see how its teacher maintained discipline. "At one point the students suggested I oversee another class with a different teacher to show how much better behaved they were," said Jenny Moorhouse, an independent assessor.

Mrs Moorhouse, who is an inspector, was drafted in by the school after to observe Mrs Crabtree on May 12, 2003 after a complaint from the parents of one of the pupils in Mrs Crabtree's class.

Fifteen lessons taken by Mrs Crabtree were observed - and in all of them the teaching was found to be unsatisfactory.

Mrs Moorhouse, who conducted several observations, indentified problems with communication, discipline, lesson presentation, subject knowledge and pupil achievement.

She found behaviour was unsatisfactory overall and very poor in some instances.

Michael Mckenzie, deputy head, said Mrs Crabtree did not take up help offered by the the 1,540-pupil school. "I was disappointed," he said. "Beal is not a difficult school to work in. At some points you get poor behaviour in the school but you need to have the tools to cope with it."

Mrs Crabtree, who had taught at Beal since 1990, said the intense observation had destroyed her confidence as a teacher. "When I was being observed, those were the worst lessons I ever had," she said.

Gaelle Graham, her representative from the National Union of Teachers, said: "The level of observation became so concentrated that Mrs Crabtree experienced a sort of despair. She couldn't think what she was doing."

Mrs Crabtree, a teacher of 25 years, was the key stage 4 science co-ordinator at Beal. She resigned in March 2004 after receiving two written warnings.

Mrs Crabtree, who is now teaching at Holy Family technology college in Walthamstow, east London, said that the intense observation she received at Beal high had destroyed her confidence as a teacher. She said: "I am a competent teacher and I believe the capability procedures at Beal brought about a huge amount of stress.

"I've recognised that there are problems and I'm doing something about them."

The disciplinary hearing found that Mrs Crabtree had failed to reach a satisfactory level in the use of appropriate teaching strategies and communicating with pupils.

She has been given a conditional registration order which requires her to complete approved mentoring and supervision schemes within a year.


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