Incompetent teacher asks to be struck off register

Jan Holden worked at Dirleton Primary School but says illness made it difficult for her to teach effectively. Picture: contributed
Jan Holden worked at Dirleton Primary School but says illness made it difficult for her to teach effectively. Picture: contributed
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A PRIMARY school teacher has been struck off after openly admitting to her own incompetence and asking to be removed from the professional register.

Jan Holden, who worked at Dirleton Primary in East Lothian, was found unfit to teach by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) following repeated reports of dysfunctional and inadequately planned classes.

Ms Holden, from Prestonpans, is among only a handful of teachers who have been struck off by the GTCS since the professional standards body introduced a new hearings system in 2012.

A GTCS report outlined a series of examples where lessons lacked focus or where pupils who misunderstood instructions, were not put back on track.

During one class, two videos were shown to a group of pupils which were totally irrelevant to the lesson. One of the videos was then simply replayed as soon as it had finished to give the teacher time to provide instruction to other youngsters completing a separate task.

Ms Holden has hit out at her treatment, stressing she was seriously ill with chronic fatigue syndrome and describing official GTCS comments on her health as “vague”.

The teacher, who was based at Dirleton Primary for around five years and “enjoyed being a teacher there”, said: “I was ill during the process.

“The GTCS document is very vague. I really want to draw a line under this – I want to get on with my life and that’s it.”

GTCS officers investigating the case have outlined a catalogue of poor practice, ranging from pupils being allowed to write numbers backward without correction to a failure to set them regular homework.

In November 2011, after a P1 counting task had gone badly wrong because it was far too difficult, Ms Holden said aloud to her class: “This isn’t working very well today and I don’t know why.”

A family member told the Evening News that Ms Holden was suffering the effects of post-viral fatigue syndrome in late 2011 – when most of the reports of poor teaching emerged.

He said she had tried to return to work on a phased basis but then resigned voluntarily when it became apparent she was unable to cope with the demands of classroom work.

When later notified that an official investigation was under way, she asked to be removed from the GTCS register.

“She was really well liked,” said the relative. “She got a great send-off when she left. She basically thought about it and decided voluntarily to remove herself from the register. How it was put through for a hearing left us confused.”

Bosses at the GTCS said they could not comment on the case, adding that an inquiry would have begun as soon as they received reports of a teacher’s resignation.

A spokesman said: “As detailed in our annual report, 38 cases were concluded by fitness to teach hearings in 2013 and 27 in 2012 – there are 70,000 people on our register.

“The vast majority of teachers in Scotland do a very good job day in, day out, and have no reason ever to be concerned by fitness to teach hearings.”

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council confirmed Ms Holden had resigned from her post and had not taught in its schools since.

REMOVAL ORDERS RELATIVELY RARE

A TEACHER’S full removal from the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) professional register is a relatively rare occurrence.

In 2012 and 2013, 65 cases were concluded by a fitness to teach hearing – although the GTCS currently has 70,000 people on its register, with around 55,000 actively teaching.

The GTCS decision archive shows that, between April 2013 and last month, 24 cases resulted in a removal order, when an individual’s name was deleted from the institution’s register.

Among these were a number of hearings in which teachers admitted they were unfit to practise and asked to be removed.