Sexist jokes no laughing matter

1st September 2006 at 01:00
A headteacher who sent emails containing sexist jokes to colleagues has been ordered to take equal-opportunities training within the next 12 months.

England's General Teaching Council issued the conditional registration order after hearing that David Rollinson downloaded inappropriate jokes from the internet on the school computer.

The former head of Moorside high in Salford distributed them to a number of colleagues and ex-colleagues.

He was cleared of sending racist jokes and of spending an excessive amount of time on the internet for personal recreation during school hours.

Mr Rollinson resigned in March 2004 after the council launched an investigation into the high number of emails being sent from his school to teachers in a Bury school. Up until then he had enjoyed an unblemished 28-year teaching career, five of which he had served as a head. He has now set up his own business as an education consultant.

Mr Rollinson, who used to give after-dinner speeches and talks to teachers and parents, has built up a library of more than 10,000 jokes. He denied that any he circulated were sexist.

"The jokes were sent with good intentions to people I felt shared a like sense of humour," he said. "They were not meant to be offensive in any shape or form. In the cold light of day I can see some people may have found them offensive and I bitterly regret that. There were jokes about men, jokes about women and jokes about relationships - I feel this reflects a balance."

Mr Rollinson said that he used humour to boost staff morale and that it was accepted he used it as part of his professional persona when he gave speeches.

He said that he had spent his career trying to promote equal opportunities and that when he sent out the emails he was suffering from stress. He had had to leave his previous school - Radcliffe high - after the school's management was restructured.

David Dewhirst, who chaired the GTC hearing, said the panel had considered Mr Rollinson's hitherto unblemished reputation and the stress he was under.

But the panel was concerned with his lack of perspective on the situation and the jokes about women.

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