'Passion to teach' saves job after arrest

7th July 2006 at 01:00
A teacher who has been convicted of drink driving, theft and fraud has been allowed to continue working because of his "passion to teach", writes Edward Chatterton.

Paul Cowan, who did not learn to read and write until he was 28, said he wanted to give young people a better start in life than he had had.

He was told at a hearing by England's General Teaching Council that he can remain in his job at Northfields technology college in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, provided he completes a 12-month alcohol awareness course. He must not break the law and must inform future employers of the order.

Mr Cowan, who teaches design and technology, was arrested in November 2004 after drunkenly swearing at a police officer intervening to calm a row between him and his wife, who had asked for a divorce.

The panel also heard of earlier, unrelated offences committed by Mr Cowan, including two drink-drive offences in 2004 and, more than 10 years ago, shoplifting, fraud and forgery. He amassed fines and court costs totalling pound;800.

Mr Cowan told the panel: "I love teaching so much because of the buzz I get from it and I would have worked for free if I hadn't completed my training.

"I left school with nothing and didn't learn to read or write until I was 28 so I want to give children a better start in life than I got."

Elizabeth Paver, committee chair, said Mr Cowan's honesty and positive comments from his head and colleagues had mitigated the extent of the registration order.

Mr Cowan trained as a teacher in 1998, graduating in 2002.

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