Edinburgh teacher cleared of excessive force allegation

A teacher accused of using inappropriate force on a pupil and humiliating a boy in his pants has slammed a professional body after being cleared of all charges.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 8:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th December 2018, 8:11 pm
Teacher Terence Anthony

Terence Anthony, now retired, was a primary 3 teacher at Gylemuir Primary School when it was alleged three years ago he made physical contact by forcibly moving a pupil with behaviour problems and autism by her shoulders causing distress and insisting another pupil sat in his underwear “as punishment for speaking”.

But a panel of three at the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) threw out both charges at a hearing on Tuesday after taking four hours to contemplate the evidence, in a process which had taken over three years to bring forward.

GTCS panel convenor David Brew summarised that the facts were “not established” in either case.

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Mr Anthony, who said he has had an unblemished teaching record for 25 years, was relieved the process was over but called into question the teaching watchdog’s handling of the case.

“These cases should be dealt with in a matter of months,” he said. “In this case all the information was readily available and the issues were clear in early 2016.

The GTCS said it did not begin investigations until after the conclusion of investigations by a teacher’s employer.

A spokeswoman said: “GTC Scotland received a referral from Mr Anthony’s employer in late December 2015. However, due to an ongoing employer investigation we did not begin our fitness to teach investigation for Mr Anthony until after we had received the investigation documentation from the employer in March 2017.”

He said the only reason he persevered with the case was out of a sense of honour, decency and “respect for the teaching profession in Scotland”.

Mr Anthony said the case had brought to light again the issues relating to inclusion and the consideration of appropriate force in schools.

“Teachers face this type of decision every day, especially with children like this. The pupil was a hugely difficult child to teach with a diagnosis of global delay and autism, extremely obdurate and often physically violent in her reaction to adult behaviour.”

In his testimony Mr Anthony explained that the pupil jumped onto a small and unsuitable table, leaving herself in a precarious position before picking up a chair and holding it over her head in a “threatening” manner.

“I took the chair from her by sliding the chair legs out of her hands,” he said. “I then took hold of her by the upper arms and slid her off the table. I then let her go.”

“The government has to come up with some sort of very clear set of rules for when a teacher can make contact with a child. Every teacher in this country has been in a situation where they have to split up a fight in a playground. Or P1, P2’s lying on the floor, upset, crying their hearts out – you pick them up. Would I do that now? I don’t think I would.”