Llangollen teacher banned following misconduct hearing

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

A DEPUTY headteacher who poked his pupils with a stick and dragged them by their collars has been banned from teaching.

John Stephen Hughes taught eight and nine-year-olds at Garth CP School in Trevor, Llangollen, and was dismissed from his job in 2008 following an incident in 2007.

A panel for the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) heard that on July 9, 2007 headteacher Sylvia Clough received a complaint from the parent of a child, identified to the hearing as child A.

Presenting the case on behalf of the GTCW at St David’s Park Hotel in Ewloe,
Martin Jones said: “Child A says he poked her in the chest with a stick and hit her on the hand with a stick.
"Her pencil case was thrown on the floor.”

Mr Hughes faced an allegation of emotional abuse and physical misconduct against pupils.

Mr Jones said this included calling the children names such as ‘dumbo’, ‘lump of lard’ and ‘bird brain’.

Other allegations included using a stick to poke or nudge pupils, hurting or tapping the pupils’ hands and dragging or leading the pupils by their collars.

It was also alleged he pushed down on the pupils’ heads with his fingers, shouted excessively at them and compared good and bad work on the blackboard to embarrass pupils.

Mr Jones said the abuse also related to sweeping pencil cases on to the floor or into the recycle bin, publicly screwing up bad work and inconsistent discipline.

Mr Hughes accepted he would throw pencil cases into the recycle bin and would remove them from desks.

He said it was only after children had been repeatedly warned not to fiddle with their pens.

He admitted he used sticks when pointing at pupils and said he touched them on the chest with a stick when they were reciting times tables.

He also admitted he would tap a pupil lightly on the head and hold a pupil’s collar.

He denied it amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.

But a panel of five decided the emotional abuse and physical misconduct had been proven and made Mr Hughes the subject of a prohibition order which means he is no longer eligible to teach.

After two years he is entitled to apply for eligibility.

Chairman Gareth Jones called the incidents ‘serious’ and said Mr Hughes had not expressed regret.

The hearing heard there had been two previous incidents of complaints from pupils about Mr Hughes’ behaviour but neither had been pursued.

Defending himself, Mr Hughes said that the earlier two complaints had caused him upset and that he suffered from stress.

He said he was going to resign anyway but then went off sick with stress.

Mr Hughes read out a number of other comments from pupils which said he was a well-liked, funny teacher.

He said he had been using a stick since he started teaching in 1971 and had a good track record as a teacher in all his 36 years.

Mr Hughes insisted he did not intend to belittle the children and said he used terms like ‘birdbrain’ in a light-hearted manner and not in an aggressive way.

See full story in the Leader

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