Maths teacher escapes ban after lunch break drinking

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A MATHS teacher who turned up to school so drunk he couldn’t do basic sums has escaped a classroom ban.

Stewart Smyth, 63, said he had taken “two swigs” of vodka during a lunch break at Inverclyde Academy in Greenock on 2 November last year.

Colleagues smelled alcohol on his breath and sent him home after he disagreed that 17 + 8 equalled 25.

Mr Smyth was backed by the council Pic: Greenock Telegraph
Mr Smyth was backed by the council Pic: Greenock Telegraph

 

He was later found by police asleep at the wheel of his wife’s Mercedes in the car park of a golf course more than two miles away.

But now the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has agreed to give him a formal reprimand which will stay on his record for one year.

The decision comes after Mr Smyth was convicted of driving whilst more than three times the limit at Greenock Sheriff Court in September 2013, for which he was fined £750 and had his driving licence revoked for two years.

In a “reprimand with consent” decision issued by the GTCS Mr Smyth said: “I admit that the above means that my fitness to teach is impaired.”

The GTCS investigating panel said Mr Smyth would not face a full hearing, which would have had the power to strike him off, as “no physical harm has been caused to a child or pupil.”

The panel also said: “The complaint made does not constitute an abuse of a position of trust” and added: “there is evidence attesting to [Mr Smyth’s] good character and history.”

 

Isolated

The panel noted: “The complaint made relates to an isolated incident and there would appear to have been no repetition since the incident occurred.”

Giving evidence in front of Sheriff Derek Hamilton during the court case, acting head Martin Anderson said Mr Smyth disagreed that 17 + 8 equalled 25 during a Maths department meeting after lunch.

Mr Anderson said: “That’s the assertion Mr Smyth made.

“I then spoke to him in a quiet corridor right outside his classroom.

“His eyes appeared glazed, his speech was slurred and there was a smell of alcohol about his person.

“I made it clear to him that I thought he was not in a fit state to teach.

“I told him that I was removing him from taking that particular class.

“His reaction was to state, ‘Martin, Martin, I’m fine, I’m fine’. I then told him he should report directly home and shouldn’t drive.”

Swigs

Mr Smith told the court he had bought beer and vodka for the weekend.

He said: “I took two swigs of the vodka.

“Don’t ask me why, I had never done it before. The opportunity was there, I just did it. It was foolish.

“I can remember walking along the corridor, following Mr Anderson, who walked ahead of me without any counselling.

“It was a lifechanging moment for myself.

“I went to a car park and just sat there.

“I sat and tried to compose myself, but then I started to drink.

“I just felt worthless.”

Police later found him asleep at the wheel of his wife’s Mercedes in the car park of Greenock Golf Club, with an empty bottle of vodka at his feet.

Following the court case he was allowed to keep his job by Inverclyde council, who said “the incident was fully investigated at the time and the staff member, who remains in post, is being fully supported.”

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