Dumbbell attack ends in lifetime classroom ban

12th August 2011 at 01:00
GTC rules science teacher can never resume his career

A teacher convicted of grievous bodily harm for beating a pupil with a weight while shouting "die, die, die" has been barred from ever returning to the classroom.

Peter Harvey, who was cleared of a charge of attempted murder, inflicted serious head injuries during the attack at All Saints' RC School in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in July 2009.

Mr Harvey, who had worked at the school as a science teacher for 17 years, repeatedly beat a Year 9 pupil about the head with a dumbbell. The General Teaching Council last week ruled that he will never be able to resume his teaching career.

"There were issues in Mr Harvey's personal life and medical reasons which possibly explain, but do not excuse, Mr Harvey's behaviour," a professional conduct committee ruled. "He accepts that he will not be able to practise as a teacher again.

"Mr Harvey's behaviour is fundamentally incompatible with being a registered teacher and therefore the only appropriate and proportionate sanction is a prohibition order."

It added that "in view of the seriousness of the allegation found proved against him", Mr Harvey would never be allowed to apply to re-join the teaching register.

The GTC said that prior to the attack Mr Harvey had been a highly respected teacher, who had been "held in high regard both by the school and the wider community".

His case provoked widespread debate about the stress endured by teachers and whether they are offered appropriate support.

Mr Harvey had been signed off work with stress in December 2008 after telling his school's education adviser that he was having violent thoughts and feared he would harm someone.

The attack on the 14-year-old occurred after Mr Harvey had been repeatedly taunted by pupils, who were also filming him.

Mr Harvey spent eight months on remand after the attack, but was given a relatively lenient sentence, and no jail term, after the judge called him a "thoroughly decent man" who had been a "dedicated and successful" teacher.

He was suspended after the attack and subsequently sacked by his school for gross misconduct in May last year.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, which represented Mr Harvey, criticised his treatment by the school, which she described as "unnecessary and inappropriate". The union had argued that Mr Harvey should have been allowed to retire on the grounds of ill-health, rather than being dismissed.

Ms Keates said: "Lessons should have been learned from the events that brought Mr Harvey to this position. The appalling events of that day raise issues about the ability of schools to recognise and manage appropriately and sensitively teachers under extreme stress."

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