A TEACHER has blasted Scotland’s teaching watchdog after he was cleared of allegations that he made a pupil sit in his underwear.
Terence Anthony had been accused of leaving the child “embarrassed and upset” by inflicting the punishment. The Edinburgh primary teacher was also accused of lifting another pupil with autism “off the ground by her wrist”.
But the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) decided yesterday (wed) that the “facts had not been established” in either charge and the case was closed.
The alleged incidents took place whilst Mr Anthony was working at Gylemuir Primary in Edinburgh in 2015 and was suspended from the school shortly after.
The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) heard evidence of the claims in October, and also heard from Mr Anthony himself at a hearing in Edinburgh yesterday.
Mr Anthony asked the disciplinary panel: “Why, as a teacher with 25 years of experience, would I now choose to use immoderate force with the record I have? I am a calm, reflective and highly experienced teacher.
“The evidence given by Ms Smart [headteacher of Gylemuir Primary] was sheer bile. This was a malicious act of conflation.
“She refused any credibility in my statements to her and assumed guilt. She had a professional responsibility to remain neutral until an investigation took place.”
Mr Anthony was adamant that he did not lift up a girl “by her wrist” as he said it was physically impossible whilst recovering from cancer, and that the girl was heavy for her age.
Mr Anthony continued: “It is a physical impossibility. I was recovering from cancer and suffering with a hernia.
“Pupil A was unusually large and heavy for her age. To lift her would take force that would hurt her. She showed no signs that she was. To support her weight I would have had to have had my hands in her armpits. That didn’t occur.
“Reasonable force is a hugely grey area and can only be decided on by the teacher in the moment. I made that judgement at the time.
“What rule was I actually breaking? There is a fob of greyness about restraint in schools.”
Earlier in the year the GTCS heard evidence from Laura Ritchie, a teaching assistant who worked with the child at the time, and claimed Mr Anthony was using his thumbs to prise her fingers off the back legs.
The girl’s mother also attended the hearing back in October. She believed that “lifting (her daughter) would be the last resort.”
Mr Anthony also stands by the previous evidence he gave in October regarding the allegation of making a boy “sit in his underwear” as a punishment.
Mr Anthony has previously stated that he was waiting on his class getting ready for a PE lesson when the underwear incident with the boy is meant to have taken place.
During the hearing at the GTCS in October, Mr Anthony claimed that he “was not aware of the boy as an individual” at the time as he was making sure the class got ready quickly.
He said the classroom noise was getting louder than normal and he shouted “freeze” to quieten the children down.
In October Mr Anthony said: “I had no focus on Pupil B at all. I could not tell if he was sitting or standing up,” he said.
Mr Anthony said it was possible that the child could have been sitting down when he shouted “freeze” to the class.
He said: “He was in no different position to a number of other children.”
Mr Anthony today condemned the practice of the GTCS throughout his hearing.
He said: “It is now 37 months since this alleged incident took place. This shows the bureaucratic corruption in place at the GTCS. These cases should be dealt with in a matter of months.
“There were clear errors of process and questions need to be asked of the GTCS and Edinburgh Council.”
The head of today’s disciplinary panel, David Brew, said they would issue a full report on the case in due course.