Teacher’s arm wrestle with kid led to classroom brawl


A TEACHER’S ill-judged decision to arm-wrestle a pupil ended in a classroom brawl and a police investigation, a hearing was told.

John Watson agreed to a test of strength with the youngster during a 20-minute lesson break for good behaviour.

The S3 pupil decided to avenge his defeat at the end of the lesson by grabbing Mr Watson’s tie and refusing to let go.

The maths teacher at Inveralmond High School, Livingston, West Lothian, feared he would be strangled and pulled him on to a desk.

The incident resulted in the teacher’s suspension for several months and a police probe.

ARM_WRESTLE_TEACHER_DN01Yesterday, a hearing of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) ruled that Mr Watson’s actions in March last year fell short of the standard expected.

But the hearing in Edinburgh ruled he was still fit to teach and no sanction was imposed.

Mr Watson said in his evidence to the GTCS: “The class had worked on an exam paper that day.

“They performed well and we finished up marking the paper early so we had twenty minutes left until the end of the period.”

He added: “As a reward I decided they could chill for the remaining twenty minutes.

“The pupils were talking amongst themselves and were free to move around the classroom. I was chatting away to some of them too. The atmosphere was ordered but informal.

“Two of the boys were arm wrestling and challenged me. I accepted and afterwards returned to my desk.”

One of the boys Mr Watson defeated at arm wrestling decided to strike back as the class were preparing to leave the classroom.

Mr Watson said: “Suddenly the pupil leaned across a desk and grabbed me by the tie. I firmly but calmly asked him to let go of my tie.

“I could feel the pressure in my head and neck building and I’m thinking to myself, I need to get out of this situation

“So I pulled his jersey and that’s when he grabbed my tie with both hands.

“Instinct kicked in and I pulled him down onto the desk and more in distress than anger shouted at him to let go of my tie.”

Following the incident Mr Watson was suspended for six months during which time the police looked into charging him with assault, the hearing was told.

The Procurator Fiscal later ruled that Mr Watson would not be charged.

Mr Watson was given a final written warning by West Lothian Council and transferred to another school in the area.

He told the hearing: “The incident has change my life. I am now more aware and cautious at all times.

“I should not have permitted free time and allowed personal barriers to be crossed.”

Panel convenor Dr Kerr Wilson said: “The evidence has shown that the respondent’s actions fell below that expected of a teacher.

“However, as this is an isolated incident, that is unlikely to be repeated the panel has decided that he is not impaired to teach.”