Acting head called nuns 'bitches' and covered up for drunk wife

18th March 2011 at 00:00
He was deputising for her when she crashed into gates of RC school while on sick leave

An acting head has been struck off for five years after calling the nun trustees of his special school "bitches" and attempting to cover up for his wife when she drove into a set of school gates while drunk.

Alan Turnbull, who taught at St Dominic's School in Hambledon, Surrey, was filling in for his wife, Susan Russman, as principal because she was on sick leave at the time of the crash.

He attempted to conceal the incident and claimed the damage had been caused by thieves who were trying to steal the gates, the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) heard.

Mr Turnbull also bullied staff, failed to deal with child protection issues and was regularly absent from the school site during his two years at St Dominic's, the GTC found.

Mr Turnbull and Mrs Russman, before she took sick leave, acted as a "vindictive pair" towards staff, according to evidence heard by the GTC.

"Alan used to terrify the life out of me," according to one witness. Another said: "They groom people and get close and emotional and then seek to control them."

Mr Turnbull also used inappropriate language towards the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who are the school's trustees. "We find that terms such as 'bitches' and 'away with the fairies' were used by him to describe the Sisters," the GTC ruled.

"We are satisfied that Alan Turnbull acted in an inappropriate manner by using inappropriate language to those connected with the school."

While on a school trip, a member of staff was alleged to have struck a pupil of the non-maintained Catholic special school. Mr Turnbull did not take any action and failed to follow correct procedures, the GTC said.

Mr Turnbull was also regularly absent from the school's buildings, returning to his bungalow, which was also on the grounds, the disciplinary panel found.

Mr Turnbull was suspended in July 2008 and was told not to visit the school site, which he failed to adhere to. He was dismissed by the school in 2009 for gross misconduct.

Mr Turnbull did not attend the GTC disciplinary hearing held last week, prompting further criticism from the panel. "We have no evidence that Alan Turnbull has any insight into what we consider to be conduct of a serious nature," it noted.

"The conduct we have found proved is in our view fundamentally incompatible with continuing to be a registered teacher," the ruling said. "We find evidence of a harmful deep-seated personality with attitudinal problems, and his conduct is a serious departure from the code."

Christina Conroy, chair of governors at St Dominic's, said she was pleased the GTC had upheld the school's decision to fire Mr Turnbull and said the school had made "significant progress" since 2008.

STRUCK OFF - Pornography in desk drawer

A teacher has been struck off for two years after bringing hardcore pornography into school and telling Year 13 students that some people used a "carrier bag" in place of "femidom" contraception.

Graham Smith, who taught at William de Ferrers School in Essex, brought the pornography into school on CDs found in his desk drawer. They were found after students complained about being shown video clips of "a fat lady wearing little clothing opening and closing her legs", the GTC heard.

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