A PRIMARY school teacher who turned up for work smelling of alcohol has been suspended for six months.
A General Teaching Council for Wales professional conduct hearing was told Catrin Williams arrived at Ysgol yr Esgob in Caerwys smelling of drink on January 28, 2013.
Presenting officer Lousha Bryl said Miss Williams, of Denbigh, who did not attend and was not represented at yesterday’s hearing at St David's Hotel in Ewloe, had written a letter in which she denied turning up at the school smelling of alcohol.
The panel heard fromteaching assistant Ceri Falshaw, who said year two teacher Miss Williams had turned up late for work that morning with mud on her clothes, something she put down to falling in her garden.
Professional conduct committee chairman Richard Parry Jones said Miss Williams’ actions “breached the code of conduct and practice of a registered teacher”.
Upon entering her classroom at about 9.20am on the day in question she smelt of a mix of alcohol and mouthwash and was laughing “loudly and uncontrollably”, Miss Falshaw said.
Miss Falshaw added this kind of behaviour was “most unusual”.
She said Miss Williams was moving in an erratic way, including stomping over to a wall display and falling in to the wall, before using it to prop herself up.
Miss Falshaw said her colleague “appeared drunk” and the children in her class were “agog” at her behaviour.
Miss Williams continued to display “inappropriate” behaviour, including mocking the work of a pupil with learning difficulties, Miss Falshaw told the hearing.
She added Miss Williams should not have been around children.
Fellow teaching assistant Hayley Hannah told the hearing she let Miss Williams into the building on the morning of January 28 and could smell an “overpowering” smell of mouthwash, which she suspected was used to conceal a smell of alcohol.
Mrs Hannah expressed her concerns to other teaching assistants, who then informed headteacher Sue Clisham.
Mrs Clisham told the hearing that as a result of the events Miss Williams was suspended pending an investigation.
She left a “lasting smell of alcohol” in the school office when she was called in at 10.45am, Mrs Clisham said.
Mrs Clisham added that she did not feel Miss Williams should be in charge of a class or drive herself home.
An independent investigation in May found that Miss Williams had presented herself for work smelling of alcohol and attending work while still under the influence, leading to her dismissal for gross misconduct.
Williams appealed, but the dismissal was upheld, based on the seriousness of attending work smelling of alcohol. The charge of attending school while still drunk was overturned.
After yesterday’s judgement Miss Williams will not be permitted to teach anywhere in Wales for the duration of the six month suspension and must provide the General Teaching Council for Wales with a written assessment from an approved medical professional that she is medically and physically fit to teach after that time.
The assessment will specifically assess Miss Williams’ use of alcohol.
After the hearing Liz Jenkins, chairman of the school governors, said: “We note today’s outcome which reaffirms the decision made by the school’s governing body.”