Street star quits the staffroom

10th January 2003 at 00:00
SOAP opera character Ken Barlow became the latest teacher to quit the profession this week after pleading guilty to hitting a pupil.

Sources at Coronation Street said the teacher was unlikely to return to the classroom after the court case, which coincided with his shock discovery that his partner Deirdre had slept with another man.

Barlow, played by William Roache, pleaded guilty at Weatherfield magistrates court to assaulting teenager Aidan Critchley two months ago. Magistrates gave him a 12-month conditional discharge after hearing of his good record.

In an emotionally-charged confrontation back home, Mr Barlow told Deirdre that he would not return to Weatherfield comprehensive. "I'm sick of waiting for other people's actions - Aidan Critchley, the school governors, you," he said. "Whatever I do from now on is for me."

A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said that it would be up to a school's governing body to decide whether they felt a teacher in Mr Barlow's position should be allowed to return to the classroom.

But he warned that if Mr Barlow did not return, the local education authority could apply to have his name added to List 99, which would bar him from teaching.

Neil Davies, chairman of the National Governors Council, said that, as a parent, he would be unhappy to let any teacher convicted of striking a pupil back into school. "The governors would have to ask themselves whether Mr Barlow could command the same respect from the class," he said.

Eric Spear, president of the National Association of Head Teachers, said he would advise Mr Barlow to retire if he was one of his staff: "At his age he ought to be thinking about retiring anyway."

Coronation Street spokeswoman Zoe Cartell said that Mr Barlow was unlikely to return to teaching in the foreseeable future, as he would be focusing on his relationship with Deirdre. "But it's never say never with Ken Barlow," she said.

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