Maths teacher could become fifth in Scotland to be struck off

5th November 2010 at 00:00
Charge of serious professional incompetence against woman who lost control of classes

A maths teacher who lost control of her classes, failed to follow the school curriculum properly and had an "unusual" level of absenteeism could become just the fifth teacher in Scotland to be struck off for serious professional incompetence.

Janet Garner, who taught mathematics at Alloa Academy and Alva Academy, was accused of failing to meet the level of competence and performance required to be a teacher when she appeared before a disciplinary sub- committee of the General Teaching Council for Scotland on Monday.

Ms Garner was employed by Clackmannanshire Council and taught at Alloa and Alva between November 2003 and August 2007.

The hearing was told that senior management at Alva Academy received numerous letters of complaint from parents concerning Ms Garner's teaching abilities, resulting in her classes having to be monitored by the principal maths teacher.

Ms Garner also failed to hand out the relevant homework assignments and did not follow the school's disciplinary procedure, handing out seven times more detentions than any other teacher at the school, the committee heard.

Losing control of classes was commonplace for Ms Garner, and fellow staff members witnessed her shouting at pupils unjustifiably during class, it was claimed.

In one explosive encounter with a female pupil who was struggling to grasp the work she had been given, Ms Garner is alleged to have said: "Are you completely useless? If I was an employer, I would never employ you. Just get on with it."

Elspeth Croal, the principal maths teacher at Alva Academy, told the hearing of several occasions when she observed Ms Garner's classes.

She said: "Initially, there was concern over the amount of noise coming from her classroom. We started taking note of the complaints about June, although there had been incidents beforehand.

"Sometimes, she would just walk into the class and stand there while they carried on talking. At other times, she just carried on teaching while nobody was listening."

Ms Croal also told the five-member panel of several occasions where pupils were left in tears by Ms Garner's attitude, and that some pupils were totally ignored for long spells during class.

Punishments such as detention, isolation and exercises were also handed out "too easily" by Ms Garner as she struggled to cope with her pupils' behaviour.

Ms Croal added: "Unfortunately, punishments were not monitored and Ms Garner regularly missed out the three stages (of the school's disciplinary code) and went straight to detention. We are talking about umpteen detentions handed out every day. Pupils treated it as a joke."

The hearing is expected to last for five days throughout November.

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