Page last updated at 14:37 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 15:37 UK

Struck-off teacher 'was suicidal'


Mrs Barnard denied that she was a danger to pupils

A teacher who became the first in Scotland to be struck off for incompetence has told the BBC the event drove her to the brink of suicide.

In her first ever interview, Susan Barnard, from Perthshire, denied she was a danger to herself and to children and blighted pupils' education.

Mrs Barnard claimed she pled guilty to a charge of professional incompetence because she had been bullied.

She said she was targeted for being a woman, middle-aged, and not Scottish.

Mrs Barnard, 55, was born in Manchester and qualified as a teacher in New Zealand during the 1970s but has been living in Scotland for the past 25 years.

She was sacked from Perth and Kinross Council in 2006 after working in Crieff, Coupar Angus, Comrie and Arngask primaries.

She also worked as a supply teacher with Stirling Council.

Somebody middle-aged, female, not Scottish - you might think that would be quite a good person to have trial competency procedures wreaked upon
Susan Barnard

In December, the General Teaching Council for Scotland decided she should be banned from teaching anywhere in the UK.

During a hearing, Mrs Barnard's colleagues claimed they could not find one activity she did not mess up in some way.

Mrs Barnard told BBC Scotland: "I don't think that's a reasonable comment to make about any human being - it speaks of bullying does it not?"

The hearing was told that pupils - who were generally well behaved - acted out in her class.

Mrs Barnard replied to BBC Scotland: "Any class can act up in front of somebody who they perceive not to be a member of a team - you know a temporary teacher."

Colleagues claimed that she was insensitive and accused children with special needs of being manipulative. She said of one girl with disabilities who was upset, "nothing wrong with her tear ducts then."

Mrs Barnard said that did sound insensitive when said with a particular inflection but it was not meant to be.

She also denied being sarcastic to colleagues and swearing at them, pitching lessons at the wrong level, putting children in danger, and making pupils miserable.

Support organisations

Mrs Barnard told BBC Scotland that she had felt "disappointed," "depressed," and had "moments of anger" about what happened to her and she had been "manipulated and manoeuvred" by those around her.

"I was thinking about suicide," she said.

"I'm just glad that there are organisations like Samaritans, Breathing Space Scotland, your GP.

"I hadn't experienced that kindness in the workplace during the protracted competency procedure."

She said she was made a "complete scapegoat" and was a test case for those looking to get rid of incompetent teachers.

She said: "On one level I think, 'What sort of person would it be - somebody middle-aged, female, not Scottish - you might think that would be quite a good person to have trial competency procedures wreaked upon'."

A spokesman for Perth and Kinross Council said: "We are committed to providing excellent education services. This requires the right teachers to be working to the right standards and we give every support to help our teachers do their job.

"However, our priority overall must be to deliver high quality services for our pupils. We take all appropriate action to achieve this.

"In December, the General Teaching Council for Scotland decided to strike Mrs Barnard from the register after closely examining the evidence gathered during the support programme undertaken to address issues of competence."

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