George Wright reports on the case of Wisbech teacher who let two infants wander unnoticed out of school
A TEACHER who failed to notice two five-year-old boys leave her classroom and walk down a busy road has admitted she was "totally accountable".
But at a General Teaching Council for England hearing, Helen Jones, of Cambridgeshire, strenuously denied claims she had no control over her class of infants.
Mrs Jones faces a further two allegations of inadequate supervision during eight months of teaching the infants at Walpole Highway primary, Norfolk, all amounting to unprofessional conduct.
The other charges are that she failed to act while a pupil leapt across tables in class and did not take reasonable care when another stood on a chair to clean a white board.
A fourth charge of failing generally to maintain discipline and order in a classroom was dropped.
Presenting officer Robert Bourns told the committee that two five-year-old boys had slipped unnoticed out of a lesson with Mrs Jones and scaled the school gates. It was not noticed they had gone until a member of the public saw them walking towards playing fields half a mile away from the school.
Sandra Frusher, head of the 53-pupil school until August, told the hearing she employed Mrs Jones in September 2000 after they had worked together at nearby Wormegay CofE primary. She said: "I considered Mrs Jones to be a very good teacher, very conscientious. There was no personal animosity whatsoever."
But when questioned by Mr Bourns, Mrs Frusher said that after a few weeks at Walpole Highway, she became aware Mrs Jones's classroom and supervision skills were "non-existent".
She said: "Children were seen jumping on tables and throwing books around."
She described scenes in Mrs Jones's classroom as "chaotic".
Mrs Frusher said she had witnessed Mrs Jones in tears at least a dozen times, and once running out of the class during a lesson shouting, "I can't cope, I can't cope".
But Mrs Jones said she ran her class like a "tight ship", and on the afternoon of the incident of the boy jumping across tables, was "a nervous wreck" due to being summoned to a meeting with governors and Mrs Frusher.
Mrs Jones added she felt "extremely bullied" by Mrs Frusher and resigned in May 2001.
The hearing was adjourned until February.