Jan. 11, 2010

Teacher sacked after handing cigarettes to pupils... who were being punished for smoking

A teacher lost her job after admitting giving cigarettes to pupils while supervising them in the ‘naughty room’ after they had been caught smoking.
Jane Eccles handed them to a boy, who could be as young as 13, and a girl of at least 15 years of age after claiming the ‘confrontational’ children had ‘bullied’ her.
But after bosses at the top secondary Sir Christopher Hatton School in Wellington, Northamptonshire found out, the 60-year-old was fired.However, Mrs Eccles, who smokes herself, avoided being struck from the national register after a disciplinary case was heard at the General Teaching Council (GTC) in Birmingham.
Colin Hinds, business manager at the foundation school, said: ‘This was an extraordinary and isolated case, the likes of which the school has never seen in its history.
‘Our parents rightly expect school staff to be the best possible role models for their children.
‘Parents should be reassured, not only by the swift and appropriate action the school has taken in this case, but also by the high standards of care and professionalism which our dedicated team of staff exhibit every day and which must be maintained.’ 
Mrs Eccles had been appointed supervisor of the School Exclusion (ISE) Room, where pupils caught smoking are taught in isolation for two days, in September 2007.
But less than year after landing the role, she succumbed to pressure by children sent there and handed out cigarettes.
She gave one to a boy in Year 9, which spans the ages of 13 and 14, and another, on a separate occasion, to a girl in year 11, in which pupils are aged between 15 and 16.Neither student was named nor any ages provided.
Mrs Eccles said that the male pupil involved had threatened her with violence unless she handed over a smoke.
‘The lad was very confrontational and I was frightened for my safety,’ she told the GTC panel.
‘I was on my own with this boy when he became threatening. He was a real handful, and I gave him the cigarette. 
‘When he was caught smoking it, he told them he had got it from me.‘During a hearing with the school I did explain that the child had become confrontational, but I was still dismissed.’ 
The second incident, involving the Year 11 girl, also came to light during the investigations.
Mrs Eccles admitted: ‘The female pupil asked for a cigarette so I did give one to her. There was no threatening behaviour on her part.’ 
The teacher, who lives in Kettering, Northamptonshire, insisted that she had only given both students cigarettes on one occasion, despite the GTC committee finding that she had done so ‘at least half a dozen times’.
She added: ‘The whole ordeal has made me very ill and I have had to seek counselling. 
‘As a result of this I joined MIND, the Mental Health organisation, and have since been working for it. I have given up teaching and wouldn’t like to set foot in a school again.’
A GTC statement said: ‘At an investigatory interview, Mrs Eccles admitted, and the Committee finds, that she had supplied to two pupils from Years 9 and 11 on approximately half a dozen occasions, with cigarettes and matches while on the school premises.
‘The Committee also finds that Mrs Eccles was aware of the law regarding the supply of cigarettes to minors and the terms of the School’s no-smoking policy.’
The GTC issued Mrs Eccles with a reprimand which will remain on the register for two years.