A TEACHER’S lesson plans were so bad they were “affecting pupils’ life chances”, a hearing was told.
Janice Ross, who taught on Barra in the Western Isles, allegedly got pupils to read out loud from books for “weeks at a time”.
She is also said to have embarrassed and upset pupils’ by making a reference to condom manufacture, having “teacher’s pets” and reading exam results out to the whole class.
The former English teacher is also said to have failed to report a “serious child protection issue” when one of her pupils truanted to be with her 24-year-old boyfriend.
Pupils at Castlebay School got so fed up they reported the English department – of which Mrs Ross was head – to a local councillor.
Mrs Ross, who was sacked by Western Isles Council, faces dozens of charges from the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) relating to her conduct and competence.
She did not attend the start of a disciplinary hearing in Edinburgh this week, and was not represented, but emailed to say she “refutes” the allegations.
The head of children’s services at Western Isles Council, Bernard Chisholm, told the hearing he was called in to help the school in 2008 following a damning inspection report.
He told the GTCS panel that pupils and their parents had voiced concerns over Mrs Ross’ teaching while she was principal teacher of English at the school.
He said: “There were regular complaints from parents. She had the most dysfunctional department.
“Students would say they would read out loud for weeks at a time.
“Her pupils did not have an outline for what there was to do in class.
“In my opinion this was all affecting the pupils’ life chances.”
He continued: “A number of pupils had contacted the local councillor about concerns about the teaching in the English department.”
Students said they felt Mrs Ross was “undermining” another English teacher through “facial expressions” and “bad attitude”, he said.
There had been further complaints about “teacher’s pets” in her class, he said.
“Causing great embarrassment”
Mr Chisholm described the complaints as “shocking.”
She also left a pupil “in tears” after reading out prelim marks in front of the whole class, Mr Chisholm said.
Mrs Ross is accused of “causing great embarrassment” to a pupil who had asked what gossamer was. The teacher allegedly replied that “she should know it because it was used in condoms”.
Mr Chisholm said: “The pupil was mortified and complained to her parents.”
He added that the island had a “largely Catholic population” and the pupil “felt it was difficult to talk about.”
Asked about the incident involved a female pupil’s alleged truanting to see her 24-year-old boyfriend, Mr Chisholm said it was a “serious child protection issue” and Mrs Ross had an obligation to share such information with the authorities.
The hearing heard a report from teacher who who claimed Mrs Ross undermined him when he was trying to teach one of her classes.
John Dillon stated in his report: “Mrs Ross decided to remain in the class. She interrupted to pass around Polo mints. Contrary to my wishes she proceeded to read out the passage.
“The cohesion, what was left of it, was lost when she left the class in a laughing fit, the cause of which I did not know.”
The hearing, before a panel chaired by Dr Kerr Wilson, continues.
Mrs Ross, who was dismissed by the council in 2010, now presents on a local radio station.
She told reporters, in an email sent from her Barra home, that she had tried to get the hearing postponed on medical grounds.
She wrote: “All I did was treat everyone equally. Some children here are taught from the outset…that they are to receive preferential treatment.
“I would not do that hence my career has been destroyed as a result.
“Only certain pupils in Castlebay School are cared about…everyone on this island knows that is the case.”