GTCW: Teacher caught snorting cocaine can keep on working

9th October 2009 at 01:00
Drug offence prompts reprimand as union insists incident took place in `private life'

Original paper headline: Cocaine teacher out of line but can keep on working

A geography teacher caught snorting cocaine in a city-centre street has been cleared to continue teaching by a disciplinary panel.

Dominic Crew, who teaches at Caerleon Comprehensive School in Newport, South Wales, was given a reprimand by the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) after he admitted unprofessional conduct.

The teaching council was told that Mr Crew took the drugs in the early hours of Saturday August 16 last year while he was drunk.

He was seen snorting the drug through a rolled-up piece of paper, and when searched by police was found in possession of pound;50 worth of the class A drug. He was arrested and received a police caution.

Rex Phillips, the Wales organiser of teaching union the NASUWT who represented Mr Crew, argued that the incident happened in Mr Crew's private life, during the school summer holidays, and did not affect his ability to teach or have any impact upon his pupils.

The case follows ongoing complaints about the GTC in England's teachers' code of conduct, which opponents have criticised for prying into teachers' private lives.

A petition against the code organised by the NASUWT has collected more than 10,000 signatures.

Chris Keates, the union's general secretary, said the code, which came into effect on October 1, is too intrusive and puts teachers' careers at risk.

Dr Adrian Davies, headteacher of Caerleon Comprehensive, stood by Mr Crew, submitting a statement of support and allowing him to continue teaching.

Mr Phillips had argued for the case to be heard in private, but the panel rejected the argument, saying it would not be in the interests of justice. He said Mr Crew showed "genuine regret" for his actions and had a "great insight into his failings".

"This was a foolish act in a moment of drunkenness - it was nothing more than that," he said.

John Collins, the panel chairman, said possession of class A drugs was a serious matter that warranted a sanction, but agreed that as the incident had taken place outside school during the summer holidays, Mr Crew's behaviour had not seriously affected his pupils.

The panel said that he had learnt his lesson. Mr Crew was given a reprimand, which will stay on the teaching register for two years.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Phillips called for a better way of dealing with similar cases in future.

"This was happened in the private life of a teacher," he said. "The GTCW seems to think that any actions of a teacher are professional actions. We have always been very clear that there's a difference."

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