Spanking teacher ordered to retrain

24th October 2008 at 01:00
Teaching council stops short of striking him off for 'moment of madness'

A former physics teacher who slapped a 14-year-old female pupil on the bottom and called her a naughty girl in "a moment of madness" has spoken out against political correctness in schools.

Trevor Towers, 48, admits he was daft to smack the pupil, who was bent over a printer trying to release a paper jam at the time, but said his subsequent treatment had been heavy-handed and unfair.

"I am not a pervert or a danger to anyone," he told TES Cymru in his defence.

A disciplinary panel of the General Teaching Council for Wales found Mr Towers guilty of professional misconduct at a hearing in Cardiff last week.

The panel decided not to strike him off the teaching register, but he was given a conditional registration order and told to retrain.

Mr Towers, who did not attend the hearing, said he had had enough of the profession and would not return.

"I don't think the profession is what it used to be - political correctness has taken over from common sense," he said. "I'm not unhappy to be out of it".

The incident occurred in 2004 when Mr Towers was taking a class at the now closed Trevethin Community School in Pontypool, a school where he had taught physics for 17 years.

"I was basically child-minding a group of pupils," he said. "It was very relaxed, nothing structured or formal."

Then, in what Mr Towers calls a moment of madness, he slapped the teenager as she leant over.

"I shouldn't have done it; it was a daft thing to do," said Mr Towers, who is now unemployed and looking for a career change.

"I never wanted to cause her any upset and there was no intent; sexual, physical or otherwise."

But at the GTCW hearing, the girl's mother said that her daughter had been depressed over the incident and had attempted to commit suicide.

Following the incident, Mr Towers was immediately suspended. Police later charged him with indecent and sexual assault.

In September 2005, he agreed to be bound over to keep the peace at Cardiff Crown Court.

At that stage, he planned to return to teaching, but in January 2006 he was dismissed from the school for gross misconduct.

He had an otherwise unblemished 22-year teaching career.

Royston Toon, the school's head, told the disciplinary panel he could not trust Mr Towers in charge of children again.

Mr Towers, who lives in Newport with his wife Angela, said: "I have always said what I did was inappropriate. But I'm not a pervert or a danger to anyone."

He also criticised the length of time the case took to be dealt with by the GTCW as "ridiculous", and said the hearing should have been held in private as his name had already been "dragged through the mud" at the court hearing three years ago. "The process is ridiculously slow," he said.

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