Ban for ex-union rep who sent fake scare letter

1st January 2010 at 00:00
GTC told that Ian Ashmore sent over 50 copies naming `bullies' and saying school would close

Original paper headline: Classroom ban for ex-union rep who distributed fake scare letter

A teacher who launched a "hate" campaign against his school by circulating a fake letter that criticised staff and exam performance and alleged it would close has been banned from the profession.

Ian Ashmore sent more than 50 copies of the letter - which he pretended was from the chair of governors - to homes, offices and even the local pub. It also said there was "systematic bullying" and named individual members of staff at Bedford High School in Leigh, Greater Manchester.

Mr Ashmore, a former union representative who had taught at the school for 30 years, has already been convicted by magistrates of causing distress and anxiety by sending a fake letter and has served a community order. His DNA matched saliva on envelopes.

The school called police after parents and others phoned in when they received the letter in early 2008.

Mr Ashmore said at a recent General Teaching Council for England (GTC) hearing that he stood by the allegations in the letter, and that his accusations have been backed up by another teacher. But the GTC panel said his actions were "entirely inappropriate and unjustifiable" and they were unimpressed with his lack of remorse.

"Mr Ashmore has demonstrated no insight into the fraudulent and inappropriate manner in which he raised his concerns," they said.

"There has been no expression of regret or an apology for the distress and anxiety caused to his colleagues, pupils, parents and the wider community."

The teacher has previously criticised the GTC for bringing the case, saying he had no plans to return to the classroom.

Named teachers in Mr Ashmore's letter were senior managers. The GTC heard they were distressed by his allegations, as was the chair of governors. After the letter was sent, the AQA examination board wrote to the school with concerns about malpractice, and feeder schools were also worried by the falsely announced closure of Bedford High.

"The public is entitled to expect that registered teachers will behave with honesty and with integrity. To produce and circulate a document with a forged signature, the content of which was based upon a fabricated local authority audit, is clearly inconsistent with this expectation," the GTC panel said.

Those giving evidence in the case said Mr Ashmore was a good classroom teacher but he was under pressure because of an internal disciplinary inquiry throughout 2007 and the sudden death of his mother in January 2008. He said this affected his health.

The suspension order given to Mr Ashmore means he cannot register as a teacher for two years.

"Our reasons are this was a serious instance of unacceptable professional conduct and a lesser sanction is not sufficient. We have taken into account his long service as a teacher with no evidence to suggest that this has been anything other than satisfactory," the GTC panel said.

"Since this appears to have been an isolated, although very serious incident, we do not feel it is fundamentally incompatible with a return to the register of teachers after a period of suspension of two years."

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