Teacher lost it, hu­mil­i­at­ed­boys

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE -

A relief teacher has been dis­ci­plined for call­ing two dis­rup­tive stu­dents ‘‘dick­heads’’.

Kevin Grace, 65, was teach­ing at St Bren­dan’s School in Up­per Hutt in Septem­ber 2016 when he be­came frus­trated with two 12-year-old boys who were kick­ing a soc­cer ball around in class rather than tidy­ing up as he re­quested, a de­ci­sion by the New Zealand Teach­ers Dis­ci­plinary Tri­bunal re­leased on Thurs­day said.

He tried to in­ter­cept the ball, but failed, and in­stead phys­i­cally moved the laugh­ing stu­dents, one by the el­bow and one by the col­lar, and called them ‘‘dick­heads’’.

The pri­mary school was alerted to the man­han­dling af­ter an­other teacher found one of the stu­dents cry­ing in the cloak­room.

Grace apol­o­gised to the boys and the prin­ci­pal later that day, the tri­bunal de­ci­sion noted.

It found mov­ing the boys ‘‘showed a lack of pro­fes­sional judge­ment and a lack of per­sonal con­trol’’.

It was never ap­pro­pri­ate to pull a stu­dent by the col­lar and ‘‘there was noth­ing in the cir­cum­stances which in­di­cated that mov­ing by the el­bow was in the best in­ter­ests of any stu­dent’’, it said.

‘‘Be­ing called a dick­head in con­junc­tion with be­ing pulled by the col­lar is hu­mil­i­a­tion that a stu­dent should not have to en­dure.’’

How­ever, the tri­bunal also said it ‘‘can see that in some cir­cum­stances the use of such lan­guage might not be so harm­ful’’. One of the stu­dents had re­turned the in­sult, it said.

‘‘Relief teach­ing presents its own set of chal­lenges. The teacher needs to be re­silient and have a tool­box of re­sources ready to use in the face of ad­ver­sity.’’

Grace, who has also worked as a se­nior ad­viser at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, ac­cepted his wrong­do­ing through­out the tri­bunal’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The in­ci­dent hap­pened on his one and only day work­ing at St Bren­dan’s School.

He was cen­sured and or­dered to pay $1365 in costs to the tri­bunal.

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