Teacher wears witch outfit to city disciplinary hearing

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A SENIOR teacher accused of misconduct has turned up to a disciplinary hearing wearing a witch’s hat and carrying a broomstick.

Modern languages teacher James Forbes faces three charges of alleged misconduct at a meeting of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) in June last year.

Mr Forbes is said to have used “aggressive” language during a confrontation with GTCS convener David Drever, while he is also alleged to have used “inappropriate” language in an email sent to the GTCS.

Mr Forbes, a GTCS council member for the past 11 years, is also accused of failing to “engage in a reasonable manner” with the professional teaching body by refusing official GTCS correspondence and refusing to attend meetings to hear the complaints against him.

The teacher – who denies all the charges against him – arrived at the GTCS offices in Edinburgh last week wearing the elaborate witches outfit, claiming the tribunal was a “witch hunt” against him.

An education source said: “It was really hilarious, nobody could believe their eyes. Mr Forbes arrived at the GTCS offices wearing a black pointy witch’s hat and carrying a broomstick.

“He believes the complaints against him are a witch hunt because he is quite outspoken, especially about members of the church being allowed places on the GTCS council.

“But I don’t think he did himself any favours wearing the costume, and I believe his legal representative told him to take it off before appearing before the panel.”

Mr Forbes, a German and French teacher at Lasswade High School in Midlothian, appeared in person again in front of a fitness to teach panel of the GTCS on Monday – this time without the costume.

George Wynne, head teacher at Duncanrig Secondary, in East Kilbride, accused Mr Forbes of using an “aggressive tone” while addressing GTCS convener David Drever during a heated public meeting on 2 June 2010.

Mr Forbes denied he acted aggressively in any way during the meeting and told the GTCS panel: “I certainly was not rude. I certainly did not say those things as I would never say anything so pompous.”

“[Mr Wynne] should have spoken out at the meeting – that’s what we are there for. I don’t understand why grown men can’t just speak to each other – its children who run to their guidance teacher.”

The GTCS fitness to teach panel has retired to consider its verdict and will announce the decision next month.

Mr Forbes is a member of the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, while Mr Drever is a deputy head at Kirkwall Grammar School on Orkney and a former president of Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS.