Classroom ban for drug peddler

16th March 2007 at 00:00
Cocaine dealer took pupils to pubs and told them of trips to lap-dancing clubs

A MUSIC teacher accused of supplying cocaine and being too familiar with students has been banned from teaching for 10 years. Stephen Bell was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by England's General Teaching Council, which heard he acted in a "totally improper" way towards pupils.

Mr Bell taught at Canon Slade CofE school in Bolton until November 2004 when he was convicted of possessing and supplying cocaine and jailed for three years. The disciplinary panel heard that the school had been concerned about his "unacceptably familiar" relationships with pupils before the arrest.

These included asking girls about their private lives and talking openly about his own, including his trips to lap-dancing clubs. He also took underage pupils to a pub before an open evening. The committee also heard that the teacher was seen giving a student a packet of white powder at a sixth form prom in May 2004, although it was not proven whether it contained drugs.

Following complaints from students and parents, Mr Bell was handed informal warnings about his behaviour. In a disciplinary meeting in July 2004 he admitted he had "made some mistakes".

Some students had described Mr Bell, who was not at the hearing, as inspirational. One student was so affected by the teacher that she refused to testify against him.

But Jacqueline Alderson, former deputy head, said Mr Bell had refused to take warnings seriously and appeared to have been grooming students to admire him.

"He never thought the warnings were that serious and thought we were fussing," she said. "I thought maybe he would see sense, but it became evident that he wasn't going to change his ways. The legacy of incompetence he left behind affected the school."

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