Kung fu fighting Miss dodges being kicked out

3rd November 2006 at 00:00
A newly qualified teacher who let pupils kick each other to the song "Kung Fu Fighting" and disturbed colleagues with her noisy lessons has escaped censure from England's General Teaching Council.

The committee in Birmingham heard that Karen Thomas shouted so loudly that two children left one of her lessons because they found it hard to concentrate.

The teacher, who taught at Sunnymede junior in Essex, also completed registers incorrectly, resulting in parents receiving distressing phone calls telling them their children were not in school.

But the committee decided against imposing sanctions on Miss Thomas because they felt she had not been properly supported by the school and that the timeframe for the capability procedures she had been placed under was too short for her to improve her teaching.

Problems with Miss Thomas's lessons surfaced in autumn 2004, when she was in her second year at Sunnymede.

Karen Cooke, headteacher, said: "I intervened in a PE lesson where the level of noise was so loud it rendered conversation between parents and staff impossible. One child had actually hooked another round the neck with a hockey stick."

Mrs Cooke said that Miss Thomas would use a "hall voice", suitable for the school's 350-seater hall but not for the classroom.

Jacky Colgan, deputy head, said she observed a PE lesson in which Miss Thomas had used the 1974 song "Kung Fu Fighting".

"This was inappropriate considering Miss Thomas has issues controlling her class," Miss Colgan said. "The result was children aiming kicks at each other."

After a series of noisy lessons, Miss Thomas was put on informal capability procedures, which became formal six weeks later. When she failed to meet teaching targets, the school accepted her resignation in April 2005.

Miss Thomas told the committee she had felt isolated in the school.

"As it became clear people I thought were my friends in the school were reporting back stories to the head, I felt increasingly lonely", she said.

"I found my classroom reviews intimidating and threatening."

Miss Thomas told the committee that insomnia, depression and a time-tabling error had meant that she had not been adequately prepared for lessons in the Easter term.

The committee also heard a glowing recommendation from Diann Ross, head of St Vincent de Paul school, Hertfordshire, where Miss Thomas later gained employment as a supply teacher.

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