Deputy head faces being struck off after giving porn star names to school leavers

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A DEPUTY headteacher faces being struck off after he gave porn star names to dozens of sixth years at their leaving assembly.

Graeme Cowie publicly branded pupils as “Buster F***salot” and “Peachybutt” during the speech. A girl with special needs was dubbed “Muff Muncher”.

Mr Cowie, 38, who was at the time an acting deputy head, also made a joke about golfer Tiger Woods struggling to keep his own “wood in his pants”.

And he declared “s***e and b******s to formality” during the address at Mearns Academy in Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire.

Graeme Cowie, teacher, front

Mr Cowie’s astonishing public meltdown, in April last year, was watched in stony silence by stunned teachers, one of whom said she felt physically sick.

The highly popular teacher of maths and physics, who is thought to earn in excess of £60,000, was reported to the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).

At a GTCS hearing in Edinburgh this week he admitted all the charges against him, saying his “ego” took over. But Mr Cowie denies being unfit to teach.

The hearing was told that Mr Cowie, whose previously unblemished career spanned 17 years, put the names of 62 pupils into a “porn star name generator” the night before the event on April 29, 2016.

Mearns Academy

In a written statement, Angela Wotherspoon, deputy rector at Mearns Academy, explained that Mr Cowie was at the time acting head at another school but was invited back because he had spent much of his career at Mearns.

She said: “He went on to say how Pupil B had wet himself in S1 drama class. I could see him cringing.

“He then started going through the leavers individually after feeding their names into a porn star naming generator. The names j***ing, F-word and w*** were mentioned.”

She added: “Pupil F, who had suffered a traumatic brain injury was not present but the name given was Muff Muncher.

“I thought I was going to be sick. I was struggling to get my head round what Graeme had just done.”

The Gordon Schools

Headteacher of Mearns Academy, David Martindale, also gave evidence at the hearing.

He said: “Graeme started semi-formally but then went on to say “s***e” and “b******s”, then said he was not going to keep it formal because they were leaving school.

“He told a number of stories… and spoke about scandals, one about Tiger Woods struggling to keep his number one wood in his pants.

“Then he started saying what pornstar names they’d be. The pupils were lapping it up. Pupils were reffered to as Dirk Peachybutt, Buster F***salot. I was anxious but I didn’t want to cause resentment by stopping it.

“I thought if I did stop it, pupils might get their phones out and I didn’t want to highlight it and give him legend status.

“He had time to formulate pornstar names but not to put together a formal speech. Some pupils were vulnerable and he normalised pornography.”

Mr Cowie broke down several times during the hearing, telling the hearing the speech was “the worst 15 minutes of his career”.

He said: “Emotion, ego and arrogance took over that evening. I’m so disappointed my maverick speech came to this.

“After struggling to get my words out, the mechanism of humour, my ego, got in the way. I lost control of the situation. The showmanship was totally inappropriate.

“I failed to uphold professional boundaries. They were now adults in my eyes.

“I take responsibility for my actions. It’s very difficult for me to relive the words I said. I struggle to identify with that person and that professional. I do not justify any of my actions on that leavers day.

“My intention was never to be disrespectful to anyone. I love teaching and want to be able to inspire young people.

“When I talked about names, the generator was totally random. I didn’t plan to match someone up with something he/she had done.

“I lost control of the situation. At the back of my head I was no longer addressing pupils but leavers who were now adults. I was looking for cheap laughs.”

Mr Cowie admits the charges brought against him which stated: “On 29 April 2016…during the S5 and S6 School Leavers’ Assembly at Mearns Academy, Laurencekirk, you did use inappropriate language and act inappropriately in front of pupils.

“In particular you did use language that was sexual in nature to and about pupils, disclose sensitive information about pupils and refer to colleagues using disrespectful language.”

At the time of the speech, Mr Cowie was acting headteacher at Inverurie Academy, Aberdeenshire. He had left Mearns Academy five months earlier.

After the speech, Mr Cowie was suspended pending an investigation by Aberdeenshire Council.

He is currently working as a depute rector at The Gordon Schools in Huntly, after the council decided no further action would be taken by them.

Phil Gaiter, Rector at The Gordon Schools, attended the hearing and stood by his decision to hire Mr Cowie in Aug 2016 as deputy rector.

He said: “Since his arrival, in my experience, Graeme has proved invaluable. He’s passionate, he cares and young people respond to him. Without doubt I would trust Graeme.”

A thank you card, given to Mr Cowie by a pupil on the day of the speech was also read out during the hearing.

It stated: “The moment you called me Foghorn I knew you were funny. I wouldn’t have achieved anything I had if it wasn’t for you. You are worth more than Mearns and you deserve to be appreciated.”

Mr Cowie admits his fitness to teach was impaired at the time of the speech but not at present.

The hearing continues.

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