Partying teacher found guilty

10th February 2006 at 00:00
Head of drama told to learn about alcohol abuse. Nigel Iskander reports

A drama teacher who allowed students to drink too much at after-play parties has been found guilty of unacceptable professional behaviour.

Jo Bowen, who taught at Kesgrave high school in Ipswich, drank so much at one party that she vomited and passed out, England's General Teaching was told.

It found her guilty of a number of other serious failings, including a failure to keep accounts for a school play, but has said she can carry on teaching.

The decision, announced at the GTC's offices in Birmingham last week, follows a hearing in December which heard that Miss Bowen passed out after a party to celebrate a 2002 production of Romeo and Juliet.

She did not attend last week's hearing and is no longer working as a teacher.

The disciplinary panel found the former head of department guilty of four charges, including claims she failed to ensure that the correct syllabus was taught.

But it cleared Ms Bowen of two further counts of misconduct, including allegations of bullying and harassment of colleagues.

In its decision, the panel accepted evidence that she had helped to organise the after-play parties, for example, by buying alcohol. It said:

"The committee does not accept the evidence that she attended merely as a guest. She had a responsibility for the safety of the pupils but nevertheless allowed them to drink to excess.

"The committee feels that the allegations found to be proved were serious - this case does not involve an isolated incident but represents a series of incidents of varying levels of seriousness."

Ms Bowen was given a conditional registration order, barring her from holding a senior position in a school until she has completed a management course.

She was also told to provide the GTC with proof that she had attended a course relating to the consequences of alcohol abuse among pupils within six months of starting any future teaching post.

The original hearing was told that she was keen on after-show parties and would "pick the students she wanted and exclude others".

Nigel Burgoyne, deputy head, said that one A-level pupil was too scared to telephone her parents after the production of Romeo and Juliet because Ms Bowen was drunk at the party.

"She encouraged sixth-formers to drink alcohol and she and students were drunk and she was observed in the toilets vomiting and later passed out,"

he said.

Stuart Race, a drama teacher, said this was not the only time Ms Bowen had been drunk at parties in front of pupils and that he had only attended the event to avoid confrontation with her. Ms Bowen admitted drinking at the party but said she was not drunk and that parents had organised the post-play parties.

She worked at the school from 1996 and left in October 2003 under a compromise agreement after an investigation into the allegations began in June 2003. She has no plans to return to teaching.

After the decision, Ms Bowen said: "I had a couple of glasses of wine at a party. And we're talking about 16 and 17-year-old pupils. There was no law broken.

"I'm very sad that this has become the crux of the matter. I loved my job, and the show had rave reviews."


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