Everything lost in one moment

8th February 2008 at 00:00
After all the emotionally charged interviews that have followed the decision to strike off Paul Davies from the teaching register (page 5), there needs to be calm and measured reflection.

It seems bizarre that Mr Davies - the headteacher jailed for dangerous driving - was back at Cwmdare Primary School last week on licence from jail. Most of his older pupils would be well aware that he had just served three months at Her Majesty's pleasure. Who wouldn't like to have been a fly on the wall when he explained exactly where he had been and why?

Jacquie Turnbull, disciplinary committee chairwoman of the General Teaching Council for Wales, said the ban was necessary to maintain public confidence in the teaching profession. Margaret Bromley, also for the GTCW, said Mr Davies's job meant he set an example for young people.

She said his offence "showed a devastating lack of judgement". It is unlikely that most people would disagree - any other ruling than that made this week would have been strongly criticised.

Mr Davies's representative, Anne Hovey from the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru, disagrees. She has always defended Mr Davies's exemplary record in his job as head of Cwmdare Primary.

The crux of this matter is whether Mr Davies's conviction for dangerous driving has tarnished his character sufficiently for him to no longer be considered a good role model for his pupils.

It is true there seems to be a lot of genuine support for him in the tight-knit community where he lives, including from parents. Not surprisingly, the wife of his victim, Kelvin Palmer, disagrees. Anne Palmer, a teacher at Treorchy Comprehensive, said after the hearing that allowing Mr Davies to return to his post as head "sent out the wrong signals".

The disciplinary hearing could have gone no other way than it did this week. Most will agree the decision was the right one. Even so, we all know that any one of us could lose everything through one moment of madness. It really is a very sad state of affairs for everyone concerned.

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