One-year classroom ban for teacher who 'ridiculed and humiliated' pupils

5th February 2010 at 00:00
Disciplinary committee upholds accusation of unprofessional conduct but union claims she was undermined by head

A primary teacher who "ridiculed and humiliated" pupils in front of their classmates has been suspended from teaching for one year.

Cathy Dean, who taught at St David's RC School in Mold, north Wales, admitted unprofessional conduct and accepted that her behaviour in the classroom amounted to harassment.

A General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) conduct committee heard that Ms Dean shouted excessively, cried and screamed and showed favouritism towards some of her pupils.

She ridiculed and humiliated others in the presence of peers in a series of incidents between 1997 and 2005, the hearing was told.

Gwenno Hughes, presenting officer for the GTCW, said there had been "serious attitude problems".

Ms Dean was sacked in 2006 after a lengthy investigation involving a number of witnesses.

She did not attend the hearing at Ewloe, Flintshire, because she is now a teacher at an international school in Cairo, Egypt. Ms Dean has also taught in Vietnam.

But Geoff Scargill of teaching union the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, who represented Ms Dean, claimed she had been undermined by the then headmistress, Chris Pilling, and left "twisting in the wind".

He said there had been such a "poisonous atmosphere" at the school that a priest quit the governing body and another refused to join, leaving St David's the only Catholic school in Flintshire not to have a priest as a governor.

Geraldine Hughes, a former governor and parent, said there had been a great deal of unrest among parents and teachers, with letters going to the education authority, governors and the local bishop.

She accused Ms Pilling of "deliberately undermining" Ms Dean in front of children and parents.

Ms Hughes described Ms Dean as a "great teacher, firm but fair". She said: "I honestly believe there was an element of jealousy. There was a witch hunt against her. It would be a travesty were Ms Dean not allowed to teach in this country."

Carol Peover, who is still a teacher at St David's, said the school was "not a happy place" at the time. Asked what the situation was at the school now, she replied: "It's much more positive - we work as a team. We don't feel there is undermining, interference or manipulation going on."

Despite the testimonies, the GTCW committee said it was satisfied that Ms Dean's conduct had not been of the standard expected of a registered teacher. Her behaviour had the potential to have an adverse impact on the well-being of pupils, it found.

The committee ordered that she must provide a psychiatric report before she returns to the "stress of a demanding classroom environment" in this country.


A teacher who swore at children, hit them on the head and called them "social retards" blames his "aggressive" behaviour on illness, the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) has heard.

Alan Pibworth has been reprimanded for his actions while working as head of science at Woodhouse Business Enterprise College in Tamworth in 2007 and 2008.

He also admitted shouting at colleagues and children, undermining other members of staff, sending threatening emails, saying a teacher was incompetent and "tapping" a pupil on the side of the head.

Mr Pibworth, who took over the science department at the school when it was "failing", has thyrotoxicosis, or an overactive thyroid, which can cause tiredness and irritability. But the GTC panel said they didn't think his medical condition was the "primary cause" of his conduct.

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