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Teacher's Big Brother lies

GTC hears of false claims about reality TV show and `faked' epileptic fits. Tara Fawcett reports

A teacher who fraudulently applied for leave after claiming that she was going on Big Brother has appeared before the General Teaching Council for England.

Ms C*, formerly of a school in West Sussex, is also alleged to have faked epileptic fits in which she assaulted her colleagues.

The hearing heard how Ms C told the head, in January 2002, that she had reached the final 50 for the reality TV show.

Giving evidence at the Birmingham hearing last week, the head said:

"Ms C would talk regularly about the show, telling different people that she was down to the final 50 or final 20.

"One evening she phoned me in a panic as she said the media had started hounding her. She said they had photographed her going into a nightclub with one man and coming out with another. She also said that she was approached by a reporter in the club who asked her whether she was willing to have sex on national TV, to which she had said, `I'm game for anything'.

"She said she was worried as a parent had overheard and said `Watch it, you could be my child's next teacher'. But when I spoke to the parent she said that she had not seen any reporter approach Ms C and she hadn't made any comment to her."

The head called the production company in April 2002 which told her that Ms C had never been entered as a candidate.

Ms C also faces accusations that she feigned fits up to six times a day and told colleagues that she had a personality disorder. She attacked the headteacher twice and threatened to kill herself.

Although a doctor diagnosed her with epilepsy in 1998, medical reports only showed that she suffered one episode during the period when staff observed her having up to six fits a day.

The head believed Ms C was faking the fits after she obtained a tape on epilepsy.

After one episode, Ms C threatened the head with a pair of scissors, and during another, she punched her in the mouth when the head tried to stop her placing her hands on a hot plate.

When an occupational health officer told her Ms C did not have epilepsy or a psychiatric disorder, Ms C was suspended, then dismissed in October 2002.

Dr Richard Bowskill, consultant physician at Hove hospital, said: "My view is that she does have a psychiatric disorder and epilepsy and the two are linked.

"I believe that she has a schizophrenic disorder, a psychological condition which results in abnormal delusion and altered beliefs.

"There are several reasons why Ms C's medical state deteriorated - she was under stress at work and she was also drinking heavily which accelerates epilepsy."

The hearing was adjourned.

* Name has been changed

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