English teacher struck off for “worst classroom disruption” ever seen

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A TEACHER has been struck off after an education official witnessed the “worst classroom disruption of his career”.

Maria Sakkadas failed to discipline pupils who ate, drank, slept, walked about listening to music and played on their mobile phones in her class.

One youngster sat on his chair like a horse and shouted “Ye hah” while another, emerging from under his desk, was told by Ms Sakkadas: “I wondered where you were.”

A teacher has been struck off after being found unfit to teach by education watchdog
A teacher has been struck off after being found unfit to teach by education watchdog

The English teacher at St Paul’s High, Glasgow, presided over “chaotic” scenes in which she would discipline quiet pupils while disruptive students threw paper, read newspapers and did homework for other subjects.

Pupils at the Catholic school in Pollok who asked for help were told to “just get on with it”.

Ms Sakkadas was sacked for “chronic incompetence” in 2011 but managed to get back into the same school on appeal eight months later.

Further mayhem followed – resulting in complaints from the teacher’s own pupils – and she was sacked again and reported to watchdog the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).

At a hearing in Edinburgh yesterday, a GTCS panel found that numerous allegations relating to her competence to teach had been proved.

David Byrne, a quality control officer at Glasgow City Council, told the panel that he observed two of Ms Sakkadas’ lessons.

Mr Byrne, a former English teacher, said: “For six years I have been an observation officer and been involved in eight cases like this but none to this level. I have never seen worse disruption in a classroom.”

The official had a feedback session Ms Sakkadas in which she admitted the pupils’ behaviour was often worse, which he said he found “deeply worrying”.

He said: “The kids just scrunched up the paper and threw them at each other. The class moved on to read a novel. Some weren’t on the right page and some had no books.

“I couldn’t follow what she was asking myself. The instructions weren’t clear so no learning could take place.”

Sleeping

The headteacher of St Paul’s, Lisa Pierotti, told the hearing: “There was lots of noise coming from the classrooms, banging on desks and a ruckus instead of learning noise.

“Pupils reading newspapers and ignoring the teacher, sleeping with their heads on the desk and walking about the classroom listening to their MP3s.

“One pupil crawled under the desk during the lesson and when he stood up she just said, ‘Oh I wondered where you were.’”

She added: “I visited her classroom and found it very chaotic, there was a complete lack of control.

“She demonstrated chronic incompetence and I felt I had no alternative than to refer her to Glasgow City Council for disciplinary action.”

One of the charges against the teacher stated that: “A pupil in your S2 class was sitting in his chair, as if riding a horse, shouting, ‘Ye hah.’”

Maria Sakkadas is found to have failed to discipline pupils who ate, drank, slept and did other homework in her classes

GTCS case Presenter Gary Burton said there was no doubt fellow teachers had put in place a “robust support strategy”.

He said that, despite that: “There are clear examples of Ms Sakkadas failing to communicate and failing to deliver tasks to pupils.

“[In] one classpupils were running around the corridor. Despite poor behaviour there seems to have been no steps taken by Ms Sakkadas to manage the behaviour.

“The two pupils who were interviewed by Ms Burns following their complaints said she didn’t have control over the class and they had learned more the previous year.”

Panel convenor Neil MClauchlan said yesterday: “The panel has determined that the respondent is unfit to teach.

“As a result it has been recommended that the respondent must be removed from the register.”

Failures

The GTCS said in its written decision that Ms Sakkadas “professional competence could be considered to fall significantly below the standards expected of a registered teacher”.

They added that the “seriousness of the Respondent’s failures was exacerbated by what appeared to be her failure to recognise and remedy her shortcomings”.

Ms Sakkadas was banned from reapplying to become a teacher for 15 months. The maximum ban is two years.

The GTCS said this marked “the seriousness of the failures” while allowing the teacher “sufficient time to reflect on the reasons for her failuresand whether she might be able to teach in the future”.

Ms Sakkadas, who did not attend the hearing and was not represented, could not be contacted for comment.

Ms Sakkadas has 28 days to appeal the decision.

In 2011 another teacher at St Paul’s High School was banned from the classroom for sending sexual emails to a pupil.

Roy McGregor, an English and drama teacher failed to “maintain an appropriate professional boundary” with the pupil.

He admitted sending illicit emails to the 14-year-old between February and December 2010 and was struck off.

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