'Harem' teacher censured by GTC

14th January 2005 at 00:00
Head of department harassed female members of staff and used offensive language. Oliver Luft reports

A head of science who referred to colleagues as his "harem" has been found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the General Teaching Council for England.

Andrew Catterall, formerly of Harrop Fold secondary, Salford, was placed under a conditional registration order for harassing colleagues and using offensive language and behaviour.

He was also reprimanded for taking a pornographic magazine to work and allegedly placing it in a female colleague's bag.

The hearing in Birmingham was told his behaviour was so bad that a newly-qualified teacher in his charge considered leaving.

It was alleged that from the summer term of 2002, Mr Catterall regularly introduced sexual innuendo into conversations and was constantly vulgar towards female members of staff.

On occasions he rubbed himself against female staff. He brought a mobile phone to work which he called his "shag phone" as he used it to arrange dates.

Mr Catterall's colleagues told the hearing that he asked two members of staff if they "fancied a shag", and ridiculed another, calling her a "dirty whore" and bought, as gifts, sticks of rock with the words "slave" and "pervert" running through them.

Mr Catterall, who had been a teacher since 1993, was appointed head of science in 2001 when Joseph Easton and Little Huyton schools were amalgamated into the 1,300-pupil Harrop school.

Alison Thompson, an NQT at the school in 2001, developed a friendship with Mr Catterall, which deteriorated as time went on. She said: "Andy talked about sex daily, creating an offensive and sexual culture in the department. I used to laugh it off at first, but it got worse. I started to feel uncomfortable with his vulgar ways."

Staff said they were reluctant to make complaints because they were afraid of Mr Catterall.

Mr Catterall claimed there was no truth in the allegations about his crude behaviour, and that he merely participated in conversations that were commonplace among his staff. He also denied putting the pornographic magazine into Ms Thompson's bag.

Stephen Murfitt, presenting officer, said, however, that Mr Catterall had admitted he had put the magazine in her bag during the school's investigation into the incident in November, 2002. Mr Catterall resigned from his post at the school in February, 2003, after a period of sickness which coincided with the school's investigation into the allegations.

He now works as an education consultant. He de-registered as a teacher on October 31, 2003. If he registers again, the GTC order means that he will not be allowed to hold a management position or a role which brings him into contact with NQTs unless he completes appropriate training.

If he returns to teaching he will be required to attend a bullying, harassment and dignity at work training course and regularly report his good conduct to the GTC for a period of two years.

The GTC committee accepted that Mr Catterall, a young department head, was not provided with the necessary support by the school management team, but that this did not excuse his behaviour.

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