Teachers drunk on the job? Fat chance

23rd January 2004 at 00:00
A Channel 4 film which showed a teacher fuelling a compulsive drinking habit while continuing to give lessons has led to outrage in schools across the country.

Pissed on the Job, broadcast last week, told the story of five individuals holding down positions of responsibility, despite problems with alcoholism.

Although played by actors, the roles were based on a series of interviews given by real professionals, including a doctor, a nanny and a teacher.

John, the teacher, admitted drinking five or six pints of lager on weekday nights. He brought miniature vodka bottles into school, downing their contents when overcome by the stresses of a rowdy class. His problem worsened until, after sleeping with a student, he vomited over his classroom desk.

Real teachers were unimpressed. Alison Stephens, head of sixth form at Burnham grammar in Buckinghamshire, said: "I was appalled... it made me cringe. Also, that guy would have been fired long ago. There's no way he could have coped with all the marking and preparation.

"He had no control in the classroom. With today's inspections and performance-management, that simply wouldn't happen. It's not a job you can function in if you're wasted."

Dave Pannett, head of Elsecar Holy Trinity primary, in Barnsley, said the programme may reflect poorly on teachers trying to unwind over a quiet pint in their local pub. "Next time people see teachers in a pub, they'll think they're alcoholics," he said.

A spokesperson for the programme said: "These people have completely missed the point. You get alcoholics in any profession. We weren't trying to play up the problem. But if you identify a problem, it can be solved. The more open people are, the better."

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