British teacher evades NZ security

21st November 2008 at 00:00
Authorities investigate after fresh complaints bring to light record of woman banned from English schools for two years

A woman who was banned from teaching in England after making sexual comments to children with special educational needs is now being investigated by teaching authorities in New Zealand over her behaviour in school there. The investigation has brought to light the fact that she evaded basic background checks.

Fiona Forster, who asked a class of special needs pupils in Kent who they thought was most likely to be raped, was struck off in May by the General Teaching Council for England.

It was the second time she had faced charges in less than two years. Previously she had been suspended for selling cigarettes to children from the boot of her car'.

Ms Forster failed to attend the May hearing as she had moved to New Zealand.

The New Zealand Teachers Council is now investigating complaints made against Ms Forster after she was suspended from a school in Auckland.

It was revealed this week that the council had issued her with a licence to teach after failing to check her disciplinary record.

Peter Lind, the council's director, said checks had been made with the Department for Children, Schools and Families. But the department does not issue information about individual teachers to foreign countries. That is done by the GTC, which said it had received no requests for information in this case.

Ms Forster would not have been allowed to teach if her record had been discovered, Mr Lind said.

"She declared on her application that there were no matters that she'd been disciplined about previously, so the council then registered her at that point," he said. "Everybody has a police vet. We also do the other checks we can with other professional bodies, which we've done in this particular case and nothing came through."

Details of the latest allegations against Ms Forster are unclear. The NZ Teaching Council refused to release details.

Ms Forster was first called before the GTC in England in November 2006 after she was caught selling imported cigarettes to pupils under the age of 16 on a sports day at Meopham School in Kent. She was also found guilty of encouraging pupils via text message to lie about the incident.

The disciplinary panel also heard that Ms Forster was convicted of shoplifting in 1996. It suspended her from teaching for six months.

Then, in May this year, Ms Forster was struck off for making inappropriate sexual comments to special needs pupils at Wilmington Enterprise College in Dartford, Kent. She had asked them who they thought was most likely to be raped, talked about a tree where pupils were rumoured to lose their virginity, and said her boyfriend had had "the snip".

She was then banned from teaching for a minimum of two years.

The disciplinary panel said Ms Forster had "deep-seated attitudinal problems" and that she was likely to reoffend if she were allowed to continue teaching.

Earlier this year, the English principal of a school in Pakistan became the first teacher working abroad to be found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by the GTC. Andrew Gordon was struck off after he admitted allowing a 13-year-old boy to watch a pornographic film.

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