'Frustrated' teacher cleared

11th November 2005 at 00:00
Breakdown in relations with class not grounds for charge of serious professional misconduct. Andrew Wakefield reports

A maths teacher who was accused of calling pupils thick, idiots and arseholes has been cleared of serious professional incompetence by England's General Teaching Council.

Thomas Harran, who taught at Hereford technology school in Grimsby from September 2002 to October 2004, was told he could continue working as a teacher.

He told the disciplinary hearing in Birmingham this week: "I'm dedicated to the profession and wish to continue to work as a teacher. I do not believe I'm a seriously incompetent teacher.

"It's difficult to contemplate a future that does not involve teaching. It was a dream come true, having done supply work for several years, to be offered a permanent post.

"I was looking forward to retiring from that school - it's that kind of commitment I was going to give. It was a tremendous wrench to find that wasn't going to happen."

The hearing decided that, although Mr Harran had some difficulties with his teaching style, they were not serious enough to warrant any sanction against him.

The panel had previously heard he had told one child at the 1,100-pupil secondary school: "I'm surprised you can count to six."

The original hearing was also told he had called pupils "thick", "idiots"

and "arseholes".

Charges of failing to establish a relationship with pupils conducive to effective learning and not explaining learning activities were quashed by the panel.

Andrew Allard, head of maths at Hereford, said Mr Harran sat marking books instead of teaching when he became frustrated that pupils would not concentrate in class.

Mr Allard said: "It was almost as though Mr Harran thought 'they're not prepared to listen, therefore they don't deserve an explanation'. Mr Harran is a very proud man and I have a lot of respect for him.

"I don't think he wanted to give up on (the class) but it was a matter of pride rather than determination.

"They were unhappy. They didn't feel they were being taught properly. This was made apparent to me by pupils in the corridor, and where pupils were saying, 'Can we come into your lesson?' "

Mr Harran admitted that there were some weaknesses in his teaching, but he denied incompetence.

The panel said Mr Harran, who is not a fully-qualified maths teacher, had never been given performance management and there had been no assessment of his professional development needs.

It had heard evidence of his experience of one class which was acknowledged to be difficult, but none about his performance with the other classes he taught.

* newsdesk@tes.co.uk

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