Sacked head admits drinking eight glasses of wine on school trip before “improper contact” with kids

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A FORMER headteacher has admitted to drinking eight glasses of wine on a school trip before having “improper contact” with pupils.

A disciplinary hearing was told that pupils were left feeling “shocked”, “uncomfortable” and “awkward” as a result of Gillian Rew’s behaviour.

Mrs Rew, who was sacked from her £74.000-a-year post at Arbroath High School, admitted to the charges at the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) in Edinburgh today.

They outline how, on a sixth year trip to Lockerbie Manor, she became drunk before she “engaged in inappropriate conversations with, made inappropriate comments to and had improper contact with pupils.”

Her admission to the charges means that the detail of what happened on the trip is unlikely to be disclosed. Police investigated her conduct but no criminal case was ever pursued against her.

Rew appeared at the hearing today
Rew appeared at the hearing today

Mrs Rew admitted she was “moritified” by her behaviour and at the time was drinking too much, partly as a result of working 14-hour days among hostile colleagues.

But she is fighting to be allowed to stay on the teaching register, telling the hearing: “I believe I have a future in education.”

Mrs Rew, 49, told the hearing today that she did not think any of her pupils “would have been particularly alarmed” by the events at Lockerbie Manor in September 2014.

“I don’t think they would have been particularly traumatised,” she said. “I honestly don’t think they were uncomfortable – I think they thought it was a bit of light banter.”

She also confirmed that on the night in question she stayed up until four in the morning, and had drunk eight glasses of sauvignon blanc from a box.

She said that as a result she had no recollection of any of the misconduct.

After being questioned by GTCS case presenter Kate Hart she admitted that this quantity – estimated to be just over one bottle of wine – had never made her blackout before.

Admitting to her actions, Mrs Rew said that she was “mortified” by her conduct on the night of the incident, in September 2014, when pupils had enjoyed a fashion show, ceilidh and disco.

Outlining the reasons for her conduct, she said that she was dealing with issues with alcohol at the time and was in “great distress”

She said: “I was drinking more alcohol than was good for me.”

She also said that other members of staff were “behaving in a fashion that was hostile and undermining” to her role at the time.

And she outlined how she was working long days – starting at 7.45am and finishing at 7.00pm, before working for three more hours at home each night.

Discussing her decision to take wine on the school trip, she said: “I honestly don’t think that I was in a particularly good place to make proper cognitive decisions.”

Seeking to remain on the register, Mrs Rew said said that she had undergone therapy and alcohol counselling since the event.

She also said that she was “devastated” and “ashamed” by her actions, and said: “I hope that there’s no lasting impact in the young people apart from the adverse publicity for the school.”

Mrs Rew – now employed by teaching union EIS – said: “My days of leading a school are gone.

“The most I would hope would be to retain my teaching registration.”

In the afternoon the panel heard from Andrena Waghorn, head teacher at Craigie High School in Dundee, who has known Mrs Rew for 20 years.

She said she is “professional, committed and enthusiastic” and “held in very high regard by her colleagues in Dundee.”

Mrs Rew previously made a bid to have the hearing held in private.

During a procedural hearing on Wednesday, the panel read out a letter from Mrs Rew’s clinical psychologist stating that at the time of the complaint she was in “ill health”.

Mrs Rew’s representative added that the case “goes beyond distress and embarrassment” because his respondent had been diagnosed with a clinical condition and potential harm could be avoided.

The hearing started in Edinburgh today
The hearing started in Edinburgh today

He later stated the process will be distressing, upsetting and will provoke anxiety for Mrs Rew.

Balancing these concerns and the public interest, the panel concluded the hearing should be heard in public with exception of evidence relating to Mrs Rew’s marriage and family circumstances.

It is believed that Angus Council became aware of Mrs Rew’s alleged drunken behaviour after receiving a complaint from a concerned parent.

She was suspended from her job shortly after the trip and a police investigation was launched.

The case was eventually dropped and prosecutors in Scotland declined to charge her.

The allegations in full against Mrs Rew state: “Whilst you were attending an S6 residential excursion at Lockerbie Manor, Lockerbie you did whilst having control of S6 pupils and also being the Child Protection Designated Officer for the excursion, consume alcohol and you were under the influence of alcohol.

“As a consequence of the above, you were in breach of Angus Council’s Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures for Educational Excursions.”

The charges add: “And, thereafter, whilst under the influence of alcohol, you engaged in inappropriate conversations with, made inappropriate comments to and had improper contact with pupils.

“In light of the above it is alleged that your fitness to teach is impaired and you are unfit to teach as a result of breaching…the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s Code of Professionalism and Conduct 2012.”

All points of the charges are admitted, apart from the declaration that she is unfit to teach.

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