Class told to send 'get well' cards to murderer serving life sentence

8th October 2010 at 01:00
Reprimand for teacher who breached child-protection rules

A teacher who got her pupils to make and send "get well" cards to a murderer has been reprimanded.

Teresa Simkins failed to obtain permission for the class to make contact with the prisoner, who was serving a life sentence for killing his wife.

He received a "number" of cards from children for eight months. Mrs Simkins was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by a General Teaching Council for England (GTC) panel, which said her actions were a "serious" breach of child protection procedures.

The GTC will not release details of where Mrs Simkins taught, but she got the children to produce the cards between May 2006 and January 2007 without telling her headteacher or parents.

It is also unclear what motivated the teacher to instigate such an unusual idea with her class. Her case was then held in private. She had admitted the charges during previous hearings.

The panel said her actions breached the GTC code of conduct because she "failed to take reasonable care". "An allegation that involves a breach of child protection issues is a serious matter," the GTC panel said.

But the panel concluded that she had accepted that her actions were a serious error of judgment and had apologised. It also pointed to her long and unblemished career.

"We have been impressed by the references supplied by Mrs Simkins and the evidence before us indicates that she has is a good teacher with a contribution to make to the profession," it said. "We have concluded that she now understands child protection issues as a consequence of these events, but we express the view that she should continue to ensure that her training and understanding of child protection issues remains completely up to date."

The GTC panel said giving Mrs Simkins a reprimand "balanced" the public interest and her interests. It will remain on her record for two years.

"This reprimand marks the fact that Mrs Simkins conduct has been unacceptable and may be taken into account in any future regulatory proceedings against her," it added.

Suspension

Hot embrace

A teacher found embracing a cleaner on school premises has been suspended from the profession for 11 months by the General Teaching Council for England. Simeon Evans, who taught at John Mason School in Oxfordshire, also allowed five Year 11 boys to become disruptive in the classroom, take blowtorches, light them and damage property.

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