Conduct at band camp prompts a teaching ban

17th May 2013 at 01:00
Teacher who climbed into child's bed on school trip found unfit to teach

An Angus primary teacher has been struck off after stroking a boy's arm at a music band camp and climbing into bed beside the same child.

A fitness to teach panel described Steven Watt's actions as "reprehensible". He made "inappropriate and offensive remarks" to children in his care at the camp for skilled musicians. In particular, he told a number of boys in a dormitory that he was conducting a survey.

Mr Watt then asked "Pupil A" if he was camp, and if "it was OK to be gay these days". He then behaved in "an inappropriate and offensive manner" by engaging the same boy in conversation, by stroking his arm and then entering the boy's bed, the General Teaching Council for Scotland heard.

Mr Watt was also found to have driven a motor vehicle while "intoxicated by alcohol or some other substance".

Mr Watt admitted all of the incidents, which took place on the evening of 28 October 2011 and in the early hours of the following day. He also admitted that his fitness to teach was impaired.

The GTCS panel recorded that he had "expressed his sorrow for the hurt and pain which his actions had caused".

Mr Watt said he had suffered from an alcohol problem for much of his life, but since the incidents took place had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous and had not drunk for more than a year. He stressed that he would like to return to teaching and that the incidents in October 2011 did not reflect his usual behaviour.

He explained that he had been on medication for depression at the time; the depression, unknown to him, had been related to his use of alcohol, he said.

But the panel noted that Mr Watt "must have been aware of the dangers of mixing alcohol with the prescribed medication".

His behaviour "was so serious as to amount to a significant departure from the standard of behaviour expected of a registered teacher", the GTCS said.

The panel received no testimonials or medical information that may have confirmed the position regarding Mr Watt's health. This was "regrettable" and removed the possibility of finding any substantial mitigating circumstances.

Presenting officer Paul Reid said that the children involved had put the matter behind them and that none had been caused physical injury, although they had at the time been "distressed" on account of Mr Watt's "bizarre behaviour".

The panel directed that, to maintain public confidence, Mr Watt should not be allowed to apply for re-registration for two years.

It also made a referral under the Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 because Mr Watt's actions had placed children at risk of harm. Scottish ministers will now decide whether he should be barred from working with children.

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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