'Acidic' maths teacher banned by GTCS

22nd July 2011 at 01:00
`Unprecedented' complaints over teacher who failed to control classes

A teacher who could not control her classes has been struck off for serious professional incompetence.

Maths teacher Janet Garner is the fifth teacher to be banned on such a charge since 2006, when the General Teaching Council for Scotland gained powers to rule on cases of incompetence.

Mrs Garner, who taught at Clackmannanshire's Alloa and Alva academies between 2003 and 2007, faced a lengthy list of charges during the nine- month hearing process.

She was said to have failed to control classes and shouted unjustifiably at pupils, ignoring very poor behaviour but "pouncing" on more trivial misdemeanours.

Her failure to follow procedure was deemed to have resulted in her handing out seven times the average number of disciplinary measures. In one three- month period she was said to have used 77, including detention.

Further evidence pointed to excessive noise from her classrooms, carrying on teaching while no pupils were listening, and ignoring some pupils for long spells. Her mathematical competence, failure to turn up for some classes and poor relationships with other staff were also concerns, and she was said to be "dismissive" when offered support.

A hearing last week heard that senior management at both schools received an "unprecedented" amount of complaints from pupils and parents regarding Mrs Garner's teaching style, often focusing on "acidic" comments to pupils.

In one encounter with a female pupil who was struggling to grasp the work she had been given, Mrs Garner was heard to say: "Are you completely useless? If I was an employer, I would never employ you. Just get on with it."

The teacher claimed she had been the victim of harassment from staff at both Alva and Alloa and that she was unaware that teachers should use discretion in dealing with pupil indiscipline.

She stated that her reputation had been tarnished at Alva, resulting in her new colleagues at Alloa having a distorted view of her capabilities.

Scott Johnston, Mrs Garner's legal representative, claimed there had been a breach in GTCS procedure, in that his client was not properly informed of her alleged failings at the time, and that witnesses had embellished their evidence.

But following a series of sessions starting in November 2010, in which 10 witnesses gave evidence, the GTCS's disciplinary sub-committee decided to bar Mrs Garner from working as a teacher.

It did accept some points she made, including that she was not solely responsible for low morale in Alva's mathematics department.

But the sub-committee decided the council's witnesses were "credible and reliable" and that "the nature, extent and severity" of Mrs Garner's failings left them no option but to remove her from the register.

Mrs Garner cannot re- apply for restoration to the teaching register for at least 12 months.

alexander.lawrie@tes.co.uk.

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