Teacher barred for toxic dumping

15th June 2007 at 01:00
A TECHNOLOGY teacher who told a junior technician to pour toxic waste into a hedgerow has been struck off the teaching register.

James Heap, who taught at Belvoir high in Bottesford, Nottinghamshire, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by the General Teaching Council last week. At the disciplinary hearing in Birmingham, he was also charged with using the school address to receive hardcore pornographic material, but the committee decided this allegation was not proven.

Mr Heap, who joined the 400-pupil comprehensive in 2001, caused concern over health and safety when he instructed an 18-year-old junior technician to dispose of dangerous toxic waste by pouring it into a hedge. The school had to pay a specialist contractor to remove the substance.

When the head of department observed three of Mr Heap's resistant materials lessons, pupils were not wearing protective goggles and were using equipment in an unsafe manner. One girl was allowed to use a drill without tying her hair back.

The GTC committee also heard that Mr Heap left the safety cover off a lathe for over two weeks.

After persistent poor performance and a refusal to implement national curriculum strategy, Mr Heap went on extended sick leave for stress in October 2004, just as the headteacher was about to start a formal capability procedure. He did not return to work and a compromise agreement was reached the following May.

Jonathan Sherwin, his head, said: "His attitude towards health and safety created a potential risk of serious injury to pupils."

Stephen Murfitt, the presenting officer, said: "Mr Heap displayed behaviour that fell short of the standards expected from a registered teacher, which was a breach in the standards of propriety expected from the profession."

Mr Heap, who was not present at the hearing, now lives in France and has indicated no intention to return to the UK or continue in the teaching profession. He can reapply to the teaching register after two years.

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