GTC: teacher's use of force was inappropriate

3rd April 2009 at 01:00
He is guilty of improper conduct, but cleared on 'canny' trousers remark

A teacher found guilty of using inappropriate force to restrain children - as well as making remarks about children with special needs - has been reprimanded by the General Teaching Council for unprofessional behaviour.

David Bolam was also censured for remarks he made to pupils and ordering his teaching assistant out of the classroom.

However, he was cleared of making unprofessional remarks about a colleague's clothing, failing to meet coursework deadlines and complying with his school's marking policy. He was also found not guilty of allegations of intimidation and using force to escort a child.

The incidents happened when Mr Bolam, a history teacher for 30 years, worked at Greencroft School in Stanley, County Durham in October 2004, and Usworth School in Washington, Tyne and Wear, which is now shut, between April and December 2005.

Explaining his "intimidating" behaviour towards pupils at Greencroft, Mr Bolam told the panel they were unsettled at the time and he had had to seek assistance.

During an incident at the same school, Pupil A said his arms had been hurt after Mr Bolam grasped him with both hands when he was trying to restrain him. Following evidence from another teacher, the GTC panel agreed he acted inappropriately.

But they said the "lock" he used on another child's elbow to escort the pupils from the classroom was appropriate force.

At Usworth, teacher Joanne Powell complained about unnecessary comments made to her by Mr Bolam, including calling her trousers "canny". Mr Bolam denied this.

Mrs Heskitt, another member of staff at the same school, complained that Mr Bolam had made inappropriate remarks when he was taking her photograph.

Neither of these two teachers attended the GTC hearing so the panel said there was not enough evidence to support their accusations. But they did accept claims from Mrs Nesbitt, a teaching assistant, who was effectively dismissed from the room in front of a class of pupils by Mr Bolam when she didn't want to leave.

Pupil G said Mr Bolam had said inappropriate things to provoke her, including comparing her unfavourably with her sisters. He admitted this, and the panel said these comments were unprofessional.

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