“Dwarf attack” teacher escapes with reprimand


A TEACHER who was filmed slamming a child into a wall and calling him a “dwarf” has escaped being struck off.

Christopher Butcher admitted all charges against him in the high profile case, but the teaching watchdog has ruled that he should not be banned from the profession.

The 61-year-old described his own actions as “shocking”, and has since revealed that he was caring for his terminally ill wife and dealing with his daughter’s brain tumour diagnosis at the time.

His case prompted an online campaign to save his previously unblemished 30-year-long career.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) was shown CCTV footage of the one-minute attack at a school in Aberdeenshire in 2013.

Christopher Butcher escaped with a reprimand
Christopher Butcher escaped with a reprimand


Yesterday (Wednesday) the GTCS found Mr Butcher still fit to teach, and instead gave him a reprimand, imposed for two years, due to his “good character” and his “previously unblemished” three-decade teaching career.

They said: “The conduct represented an isolated incident. There was no evidence before the panel which suggested that, prior to the incident, there had ever been any concerns about the way Mr Butcher interacted with pupils.

“Having regard to the serious nature of Mr Butcher’s conduct, which the panel considered a severe lapse in judgement, the panel determined that it was appropriate that the reprimand be imposed for a period of two years.”

They added: “He had reflected on his conduct and shown insight and remorse.

“He had taken steps to address the factors which contributed to his conduct, such as his health.”

The two-minute CCTV clip played at the hearing showed the learning support teacher bringing a “really small” pupil into the corridor at Fraserburgh Academy.

No sound was recorded, but it is clear that Mr Butcher is shouting at the student as he stands within 30cm of the teenager with his arms crossed.

The pupil tries to move away, but as he turns to walk off Mr Butcher grabs him roughly by the shoulder, swings him around and slams him into the corridor wall.

At the hearing, he admitted that the video “still had the power to shock and perplex him”, and that he was “dreadfully ashamed and upset to see himself acting in such a fashion”.

He accepted all charges, which stated that he called a student a “dwarf”, “stupid” and “inhuman”, and “grabbed him by the shoulder and pushed him back into a wall with a closed fist”.

Speaking from his Strichen home last week, Mr Butcher said he has been under “considerable personal stress” for many years, which led to him “losing it” with a misbehaving pupil.

He said: “It’s something I’ve fully admitted and fully accept. What I did was professional misconduct, ought not to have happened and I should have thought better.

“The reason that I went all the way to the tribunal was that I did not want to be instantly struck off and thought of as an unfit person to teach because this is the first thing that has happened in 31 years.

“I felt there were other circumstances that should be brought into play to give a more holistic view of my career as a classroom teacher.

“My wife is terminally ill and some years ago my daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She had lengthy surgery and did recover from that but I’ve been under considerable personal stress for many years.”

Mr Butcher told the panel he was signed off several times during his career for depression and now cares for his wife Sheena.

He said these factors “contributed in no small way to what happened” during the incident on June 24, 2013.

“It was the perfect storm of a situation and I lost the plot,” he added.

Mr Butcher has since said he was touched to find out that two former pupils had written to the GTCS panel in his defence.

A ‘Save Mr Christopher Butcher’ Facebook page was also set up by former students, who said he was a “good guy” and “the best teacher who ever lived”.

The teacher, who had a clean 31-year teaching record previous to the incident, was immediately dismissed by Aberdeenshire Council at a disciplinary hearing following the incident.

Mr Butcher appealed the decision, but then decided to resign from his position at the school.

Andrew Griffiths, head of education and staff development with Aberdeenshire Council, said: “Mr Butcher did not demonstrate any remorse at his disciplinary hearing.

“There was not the level of emotion I would expect from someone in his position. I felt he was blaming the pupil for the prolonged attack.

“From looking at the CCTV we can see that the pupil looked scared and as if he was backed into a corner and trying to get away.”

Mr Butcher has previously made clear that he has “no intention” of teaching again and considers himself retired.

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