Teacher loses his second GTC case

18th March 2005 at 00:00
Stephen Lucas and Oliver Luft report on the man determined to erase the stigma of being the council's first scalp

The first teacher to be banned by England's General Teaching Council this week lost his appeal to return to the classroom but is determined to clear his name.

John Anthony Cole, a former maths and RE teacher, says the ban has already cost him pound;150,000, affected his pension, and strained relationships with family and friends.

He is not sure whether he wants to return to teaching but said: "What I'm fighting for is to remove the burden of being banned. I want my reputation to be unstained.

"There are not many worse things you can do to me than call me unprofessional. It is not the most important thing to get back in the classroom.

"The picture of me the GTC has presented is not one I recognise. I am 99.9 per cent sure that I will be back there fairly soon fighting to get rid of the ban."

For the past three years the 57-year-old from Little Wenlock, Shropshire, has worked for a company that conducts searches for firms of solicitors involved in property deals.

Mr Cole, who was struck off the approved register of teachers for two years for gross misconduct, has also tutored pupils on a one-to-one basis.

He taught for almost 10 years at The Grange school in Shrewsbury before being banned by the GTC in March 2002. It heard he undermined colleagues and swore at pupils, regularly using words such as "wanker".

The original GTC hearing was told he called one pupil a "shrimp and a midget" and another a "stupid git". It said the epithets were totally unacceptable and should never be used by a teacher.

The GTC also ruled that Mr Cole attempted to subvert the threshold assessments of fellow teachers by sending emails to the assessors, Cambridge Education Associates.

Mr Cole told the original hearing that it was his "Christian duty" to speak out against wrong actions.

His attempt to overturn the ban was made to the GTC's first restoration hearing. The day-long hearing took place in Birmingham.

Mr Cole told the restoration committee that his first hearing was "mayhem and chaos" and that the panel were "amateurs".

He admitted using the word "bastard" in front of pupils but told both hearings, each in Birmingham, that he had only used it in its correct context when describing a child born out of wedlock.

The original hearing was also told that Mr Cole asked pupils to stand up in class and tell inappropriate jokes.

It heard that in 2000 he attempted to discredit his headteacher by passing a folder of correspondence, critical of the head, to an inspector and he inappropriately reported another colleague to an examination board.

Mr Cole was suspended, and later resigned, after his actions were found to have brought the school into disrepute.

He claimed that at the time of the incidents he was suffering from stress and taking medication. He told The TES: "All these things were inconsequential. They were blown sky-high. It could have been resolved with a 10-minute chat between me and the head."

The restoration committee was not satisfied that Mr Cole had taken sufficient measures to enable him to return to the classroom.

It concluded that he had not shown any insight into the events that led to his initial ban nor, despite apologising for the hurt he caused, had he shown regret about the facts or particulars of the case.

The committee said it had been given no objective contemporary medical evidence to back up Mr Cole's claim that his mental state was greatly improved.

It was satisfied, however, that he had been a competent teacher prior to 2002 and that he would continue with his studies at Exeter university to develop his experience and teaching skills. And it was also satisfied that Mr Cole had been of good character since his prohibition order.

But Liz Paver, chair of the GTC committee, said: "We are not satisfied that he has demonstrated a willingness and ability to conform to the standards of conduct expected of teachers."

* newsdesk@tes.co.uk

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