'Classroom chaos' teacher suspended for one year

6th July 2007 at 01:00
a supply teacher who went undercover to expose bad behaviour for a TV documentary has been suspended from teaching for a year.

Angela Mason admitted to England's General Teaching Council that she had secretly filmed students and colleagues for a Channel Five documentary, Classroom Chaos, aired in 2005.

She returned to the classroom after a 30-year absence and hid cameras in her bag and buttonhole to film pupils in five schools.

When her case first came before the GTC, the Daily Express said: "Angela Mason should be applauded rather than hounded."

But this week Bradley Albuery, presenting officer, said it was "wrong and unprofessional" to film pupils secretly. He added that she had breached colleagues' trust.

The GTC panel rejected Mrs Mason's plea that the filming was justified on the grounds of being in the public's interest.

Mrs Mason worked undercover as a supply teacher between October 2004 and January 2005. The documentary showed her failing to control several classes. She was sworn at by pupils and told to "take a nap" by one, while another searched for pornography during a media studies class.

Clive Rawlings, her representative, described Mrs Mason as a respected professional with integrity and passionate beliefs. He said: "Angela Mason is a respected and experienced television producer. She is committed to raising the profile of public concern regarding disruption in Britain's classrooms by highlighting and evidencing incidents of low-level indiscipline within many classrooms, particularly in the state sector."

He said no concrete evidence had been presented to show that children's education and welfare had been damaged by her actions.

Another charge of failing to promote the education and welfare of pupils by not managing their behaviour was not proven.

Speaking after the decision, Mrs Mason said: "I stand by what I've done. Covert filming was the only way to stop what was happening and I don't regret it.

"The GTC has done nothing to help the profession by sanctioning me. It would have been easy to let them crawl over me, but Channel Five and I felt very strongly about the issue. A generation of children's education is being blighted. Teachers are afraid to teach because of it."

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