Science lessons left girls out

14th April 2006 at 01:00
A science teacher has been found guilty of serious professional incompetence after a group of girls complained that they were learning nothing in his lessons.

David Dobbie, who taught at Rufford school, Mansfield, has now been told he must complete a programme of mentoring and supervision within the next year.

England's General Teaching Council issued the conditional registration order after ruling that he had failed to plan lessons properly and heard that he had inadequate classroom management skills.

Failures in Mr Dobbie's teaching were highlighted shortly after he was appointed in 2001.

At an earlier disciplinary hearing, the GTC was told by Debra Williams, the then head of science, that pupils had approached her to complain about his teaching.

"A group of girls came to express their concerns about Mr Dobbie's classroom management," she said. "Three girls told me they were really worried that they were not learning anything in their lessons. The girls told me that Mr Dobbie seemed to favour the boys and that the boys were often disruptive."

An informal process of support was put in place but did not lead to an improvement, and at a review in January 2002, staff became concerned that Mr Dobbie could not follow their advice.

In March 2002, he entered a formal capability procedure and was given 12 targets to help him improve his classroom management and practice. These included plans to reduce the pace of his lessons, to use timelines, to try to engage pupils more and to give the class feedback.

The school also arranged for lessons to be observed by inspectors from Nottinghamshire county council.

However, these inspections did not take place as Mr Dobbie went off sick in early April and only returned to school in mid June.

He told the previous hearing that his wife had asked him for a divorce and had left with all the furniture on the weekend prior to his starting at the school. His doctor had prescribed him anti-depressants in January 2002.

In June 2002 the school issued him with a written warning after he achieved none of his targets, and he was offered further support.

Rufford school was a mixed comprehensive with 1,000 pupils, but at the time it had just 400 pupils with 35 staff - a ratio of 12 pupils to each member of staff -because it was due to close.

After the summer term, Mr Dobbie returned to the school in a part-time capacity to lessen his burden. Yet he was still unable to establish routines or give proper feedback.

In November 2002, governors decided to dismiss Mr Dobbie with effect from April 2003.

Mr Dobbie admitted his performance fell well below what was expected, but did not believe he was guilty of serious professional incompetence, as his health severely impaired the quality of his teaching.

"I think there was a marked improvement in my performance from September 2002. I think the school had seen that too, but we had gone too far down the road," he said.

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