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Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 17:53 UK

Bottom slap teacher must retrain

A teacher who slapped a pupil on her bottom and called her a "naughty girl" has been found guilty of professional misconduct, but can carry on teaching.

Trevor Towers, who was sacked from Trevethin Community School, Pontypool, had been cleared of indecency and agreed to be bound over by a court.

Mr Towers had denied his actions were unacceptable professional misconduct.

In his absence, a General Teaching Council (GTC) inquiry found against him and ordered him to undergo retraining.

Mr Towers, who had 22 years' experience as a teacher, was sacked in 2006 for gross professional misconduct following the incident in 2004.

The regulatory hearing in Cardiff was to decide if his conduct fell below that of a registered teacher.

I felt really upset and just wanted to get out of the classroom
Girl who was slapped

Giving evidence in person at the hearing, the girl, known as pupil A, confirmed her police statement which was read out by presenting officer Damian Phillips.

The girl described how she had been bending over a printer in an end-of-year science class in July 2004 when Mr Towers approached from behind.

She said: "Then I felt a firm slap on my bottom. I heard him say, "You naughty girl".

"I could feel myself going bright red. I felt really upset and just wanted to get out of the classroom."

'Embarrassed and humiliated'

The teenager, who now works as a receptionist, broke down in tears at the beginning of her evidence which described how she had felt "embarrassed and humiliated" in front of her classmates.

The hearing was read a statement by pupil B, a friend of pupil A, who said Mr Towers had left his hand on the girl's bottom for a few seconds.

The next day Mr Towers apologised to the girl and her mother, who also gave evidence at the hearing, but the girl insisted the matter was reported to the police.

The hearing was told that in September 2005 Mr Towers was acquitted of indecent assault and sexual assault at Cardiff Crown Court after the prosecution offered no evidence and he agreed to be bound over for 250 for a year.

The hearing was told he was later sacked by the school, with the National Union of Teachers describing his behaviour as "highly inappropriate".

Mr Towers, whose request for the hearing to be heard in private was refused, did not dispute a claim of abusing his authority as a teacher or undermining trust in teachers through his actions, but he denied that amounted to unacceptable professional misconduct.

Retrain

Mr Phillips said Mr Towers' evidence during the various inquiries raised doubts about his honesty as he did not fully admit to smacking the girl until the start of the criminal trial.

He said: "He had tried to explain it as harmless banter and that it was not sexual. The panel will have to consider whether it was."

The five-person GTC panel decided his conduct did fall below that of a registered teacher.

The hearing's panel decided to impose a conditional registration order requiring Mr Towers to retrain in order to "update his knowledge of safeguarding children in schools".

The chair of the panel Jacquie Turnbull said it had taken into account that Mr Towers had not been barred from the teaching profession by the education secretary following his court appearance.

She said they also found the allegation the girl was humiliated in front of her peers and made to feel physically uncomfortable was not proved.

However, she added that the panel had concerns about his lack of "appropriate insight" into the consequences of his actions.

Mr Turnbull has the right to appeal against the decision and to ask for the order to be revoked.

The school has since closed.


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