Year-long classroom ban for 'fat gay boy' jibe

9th July 2010 at 01:00
Maths teacher who picked on pupils and browsed for sex aids on work laptop is banned for a year

A teacher who used his school laptop to browse sex-aid websites and called a pupil a "fat gay boy" has been suspended from his job for a year.

Geoffrey Johnston made children "uncomfortable and upset", a General Teaching Council for England (GTC) panel heard.

The maths teacher, who has taught at Fazakerley High School in Liverpool since 2004, "made fun" of pupils and spoke to them about his "personal and sexual matters".

He was suspended in December 2008 because of his "inappropriate" conversations with children. School leaders ordered a forensic investigation of his computer, where they found details of Mr Johnston's custody battle with his wife and records of internet activity, including gambling and visits to online retailers of sexual aids.

Mr Johnston had also installed a sexually themed game on the computer and had been using it. He claimed others had tampered with his computer but was dismissed in April 2009 for gross misconduct.

Last week, the GTC panel said he had failed to uphold the "standards of propriety" expected by the profession.

Mr Johnston had been misusing his computer for two years, but investigations into his behaviour only started in December 2008 when three pupils told a senior member of staff they "felt too uncomfortable" to go to his maths lesson.

"They stated that he made fun of pupils and when they became upset Mr Johnston claimed it was just `banter'. He also spoke to pupils about personal and sexual matters relating to his relationship," the GTC panel said.

In the same year Mr Johnston had called pupil A "a fat gay boy".

"His conduct fell below the standard expected of a registered teacher and the standards of propriety expected of the profession. Accordingly, he is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct," the GTC panel said.

"We have concluded that Mr Johnston was in breach of the GTC's Code of Conduct for Registered Teachers, in that he had spoken inappropriately to pupils on personal and sexual matters, (and) spoken in a demeaning and discriminatory manner by addressing Pupil A inappropriately.

"He has also failed to maintain appropriate standards of integrity in the use of his school laptop.

"Mr Johnston's behaviour has brought the reputation and standing of the profession into disrepute.

"We were also concerned by Mr Johnston's initial lack of insight into his actions, although we noted that he has now accepted that his actions were inappropriate.

"We are not dealing with an isolated incident. We have not received evidence of rehabilitative or corrective steps or relevant and appropriate references."

Mr Johnston will have to complete training on safeguarding children before he takes up another post.

"The conduct of Mr Johnston was serious and it would not be appropriate for him to return to teaching without the council having reassurance that structures were in place to reduce the risk of him repeating his behaviour," the GTC panel said.

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