Jailed air-pistol teacher is allowed back in class

8th February 2008 at 00:00
Linda Walker, the teacher jailed for firing an air pistol at a gang of youths, has been told by England's General Teaching Council (GTCE) that she can teach again. The 50-year-old food technology teacher was given a six-month sentence after firing the gun at the feet of teenagers who bullied her two sons and vandalised their home.

She told The TES in her first full interview: "I can't say I didn't do anything wrong, but I'm very ashamed of my actions. My convictions are very serious, so I'm thrilled that I wasn't banned."

Mrs Walker said she believed that if she were not a teacher she would still be languishing in prison. "I was so distraught that they could put me in prison when I'd never harmed anybody in my life," she said. "I was just a mother trying to protect her children. I felt an injustice had been done against me.

"Because I was a teacher, people realised I was genuine, not a violent person. It made people think, 'What's driven her to do that?' If I'd been a cleaner or a housewife I could still be rotting in prison."

There was an outcry over her jailing. A petition started by her daughter received more than 1,200 signatures. The Daily Mail said she had been "monstrously mistreated", and she received 20 letters a day, many from teachers. "Teachers related to me because they deal with unruly youths who have no manners, who have no respect for themselves or others," she said. "They realised the pressure I was under."

In 2005, a Manchester Crown Court found Mrs Walker guilty of affray and possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear. On arriving in prison, she began a three-day hunger strike. The authorities responded by transferring her to a high security prison. "We had to go through nine metal fences topped with barbed wire," she said. "It was a lifers' prison. You didn't know who was there or what they'd done. It was horrendous."

She served 38 days of her sentence before it was overturned on appeal. But she was dismissed as head of food technology at New Park special school in Salford, and her case referred to the GTC.

She now teaches cookery to adults at Salford College, and is seeking a publisher for her autobiography, "to set the record straight". "It's been downhill, but now I'm making a comeback," Mrs Walker said. "I'm getting a bit of my credibility, my life back."

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