Teacher who threatened to kill colleague can stay in classroom

11th February 2011 at 00:00
GTC finds he acted under stress `as a result of private, personal difficulties'

A teacher who threatened to kill a colleague and behaved in an "abusive, threatening and offensive" manner towards another member of staff has been allowed to stay in the classroom.

David Harrison had to be physically restrained after he swore, shouted and "attempted to physically intimidate" his colleague.

Mr Harrison, who taught at St Mary's College, Hull, was dismissed from his job following the incident in November 2009.

Mr Harrison threatened to kill Tim Derrick, and also swore at another colleague, Norman Brownlie, when he tried to restrain him.

GTC panel chair Tony Neal said he took "a serious view of aggressive and offensive behaviour to professional colleagues, particularly when it takes place on school premises" but added that Mr Harrison had received "very good testimonials" of his professional skills.

The incident occurred at a time when Mr Harrison was under "considerable stress as a result of private, personal difficulties" and was out of character, the panel heard.

"Mr Harrison ought to have kept his private and working lives separate, and should, as a professional, have controlled his anger," Mr Neal said.

Mr Harrison, who was represented by barrister Clive Rawlings, tried to get the GTC panel to hold the hearing in private "in order to protect a witness", but his request was turned down because it would have been "contrary to the public interest". He was allowed to give some evidence in private.

Mr Neal said Mr Harrison's behaviour "had the potential to undermine public trust", but added: "The committee has seen very good testimonials concerning Mr Harrison's professional skills. It takes into account that, as a result of his misconduct, Mr Harrison was dismissed from his employment.

Mr Harrison was given a reprimand, which will stay on his record for two years.

The committee noted that "Mr Harrison's behaviour has not seriously affected pupils".

"It accepts that he has insight into his failings, and that this was an isolated incident. He has expressed his shame and remorse. He has a previous good record, and there is no evidence of repetition of behaviour since the incident," Mr Neal said.

BAD BEHAVIOUR - Two-year ban

Robert Burke kicked furniture, swore in front of children and made inappropriate remarks about his head while working at two primary schools in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

Mr Burke, who did not attend his hearing, blamed headteachers, governors, parents and the local education authority. He was banned for two years.

Primary teacher Ms C* assaulted her headteacher twice in feigned epilepsy fits.

Ms C, who taught at a school in West Sussex, was allowed to continue working.

A GTC panel heard she exaggerated her condition, and had a psychiatric disorder.

She received a conditional registration order stating that she must provide six-monthly medical reports to the GTC and inform schools about the order.

* Name has been changed

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