I am outraged at the way I have been treated by this school, and company. They want to get rid of an old teacher who “sounds thick” and doesn’t fit the image of a private school. They have resorted to double jeopardy, resurrecting a resolved issue, and adding some obscene filth to it.
Until now I have remained quiet about the accusations and other issues, but I have little to lose from telling the whole truth. It would probably be better for the company to keep me quiet.
It should be obvious that, despite problems with the facilities, I enjoyed working as a loyal teacher at the school. I have no animosity towards the school. I don’t want the students or staff to lose out as a result of this case, but there comes a time when something needs to be said.
This case is about age discrimination. I was repeatedly told that I was too old to teach.
This case is about discrimination and snobbery. I was repeatedly told that someone who “sounded thick” had no place in a private school.
This case is about a bully. An unpleasant bully full of prejudices, but a bully all the same. She covers her limitations by being in control and by undermining anyone who challenges her. As a result, she is destructive and dangerous.
Her mistakes with me were the assumptions she made.
She assumed that my having a regional accent that is often the subject of ridicule means that I am “thick.” I’ve heard it before, but expected something rather more professional from a senior teacher.
She assumed that my one-eyed look made me look weird and underlined my being thick.
She assumed that my subject is trivial and worthless. Since there was only one Computer Science teacher she could repeat it without fear of challenge.
She is easily angered by trivial things like colourful ties.
I’m not authoritarian, apparently an essential trait in a teacher.
She couldn’t stand or understand that at sixty-nine, I was fairly invulnerable to her day to day bullying. After all, I could always leave. I believe she was angry when my line manager was changed to someone more supportive.
She told me I was thick. Someone with my accent had no place in a private school. She complained about my decorative ties. More importantly, she told me I was too old, and she wanted me gone. After all, anyone could teach my subject.
For myself, I left school at fourteen and after a career in physically demanding jobs and some time working and training as a mental health nurse, I got myself a degree as the top of my cohort. I also studied on a Business Management course and more recently on a Computing MSc. If I’m thick they must all be easy courses.
My accent follows from the fact that there was never any reason for me to want to change it. By the time I was fifty, there seemed little point in “speaking properly,” and I really didn’t expect to meet a bigoted snob, who took issue with it.
I taught Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Critical thinking at evening classes while at home as the carer for my preschool children.
I write a lot. Mostly, this is for children, but I have also researched for a history work.
I ran a software development company, working with infant software companies which are now internationally renowned. I’m a good programmer and game developer.
I got into teaching at fifty, having been invited by a University course leader who was struggling to recruit ICT specialists. I gained a PGCE, but at fifty, there’s a shortage of jobs for older teachers and I spent most of my time doing supply work and temporary contracts.
I’ve enjoyed teaching and it has helped me cope with my health issues. I wanted to continue while I was fit to work. It was also useful because, as I was mostly a supply teacher, my pension is meagre.
I have a whole range of health issues.
I have type 2 diabetes which has developed into an analogue of type 1. As a result, I suffer with various neuropathies.
I have gastroparesis which cause a variety of gastric distress. It explains why I would often not bother going to the canteen for a free lunch.
I have peripheral neuropathy and this, together with a vitamin B12 deficiency means that I lose feeling in my feet and have to take care where I place my feet.
I sometimes get pins and needles in my fingers too.
I take a variety of diabetes medications.
I have a hiatus hernia. This is managed by medication and causes few problems.
I have gallstones. They can be painful occasionally, but I live with them.
I have atrial fibrillation, an enlarged left atrium, and a sclerotic mitral valve. These problems are dealt with by anti-hypertension medications, beta blockers and anticoagulants.
I have some nascent prostate problems, probably related to celibacy.
I have considerable muscle wastage. This, the neuropathy and the beta blockers, means that I sometimes have to take the stairs slowly using the rail. My size belies the fact that I am extremely weak physically.
Being one-eyed is a lifetime problem. It contributes to be being clumsy when close to things and people and it makes me “look weird, according to the bully.”
Despite my health issues, I am careful to avoid and manage stress and have had little time off sick and only one-half day while at Quinton House School.
I’ve made little mention of my health issues at school, other than having the anticoagulants noted in case of a cut or bruising. I once allowed GCSE students in a PE teacher’s class, where they were researching performance enhancing drugs, and with the teacher’s approval, to take my pulse to show the effect of beta blockers.
I work partly as a way of distracting me from my health issues and keeping me active.
I believe my health issues are pertinent to this case.
Supply at the school
I worked on supply at Quinton House School for part of 2014-2015, mostly as an ICT teacher. During my time as a supply teacher I was unaware that there had been complaints about me. There were large classes, limited space between students and bags and the possibility of minor collisions. This has been detailed elsewhere.
In an informal discussion with my line manager, it was suggested that I was a bit clumsy and needed to slow down. There was no suggestion of any untoward behaviour. The documentation from the time shows this.
As a result of my supply work I was offered and accepted a permanent position.
The bully became my line manager and was constantly finding fault. This was not in a supportive way, but included negative comments about my age, my accent, my ties, and the worthlessness of my subject.
During the year, the bully, my line manager, told the headteacher that I was not preparing lessons. The headteacher responded, quite correctly, by observing a lesson unannounced. She observed that, “this was a clearly prepared lesson drawing on previous learning.” More importantly, she observed a range of problems with the room and equipment that I had repeatedly complained about, but nothing had been done. She ensured that all the problems were properly addressed. She also replaced my line manager with someone more supportive and not at all hostile. The bully was, clearly, enraged by this.
On a several occasions, the bully told me that I was too old, and she wanted me to leave. I did not reply and simply ignored the unpleasantness. On 20th June 2017 she called me into her office and told me, “you can either resign or I will bring a disciplinary against you.” Since I had no idea what the disciplinary would be about, I ignored it as just more bullying.
On 3rd November 2017 I was called into the headteacher’s office and told that I was “worse than Ian Huntley.” I had been sexually assaulting students and had invited two girls to my home. It emerged that the sexual assaults were the resurrection of the 2014-1017 issues and an alleged invitation that had been made ten months earlier during the last week of Autumn term. I had no idea what it was about but pointed out that I lived thirty miles from the school, which made such an invitation unlikely.
Surprisingly, having compared me to a child murderer, the headteacher then told me to return to my lessons.
Other accusations were later added. It was alleged that
1. I touched the hands of two students;
2. I got too close to two students;
3. I stumbled and touched a student’s leg;
4. I invited two students to my home;
5. I had been pestering the nursery to gain access to the children;
6. I had been similarly involved with the Brownies;
7. I had been seen looking at suspicious, but undefined, web sites;
8. I looked at students in a weird manner that was assumed to be sexually motivated;
9. I was frequently drunk;
10. I got too close to certain teachers in the staff room;
11. I write pornographic novels;
12. There was a previous case at another school.
13. I can’t speak properly.
No evidence was offered for much of this, but the burden of proof is placed on me to prove otherwise.
When using computers, students often meet with problems. Issues with usernames and passwords were always dealt with at the teacher’s workstation. Other problems required a variety of approaches. In general, students would seek help when what they were attempted didn’t work as expected. The first response to this would be to prompt them to find the error, the appropriate icon, etc. Finding errors is an important part of programming and computer work in general. Students must learn to error check efficiently and it’s not helping if the teacher does it for them. Students are learning mouse control, which requires the development of fine motor skills. This would not be helped by taking hold of a student’s hand.
There would occasionally be a need to take control of the computer to correct a problem. I would ask for the mouse and very occasionally, hands might touch. This would never be for more than a fraction of a second, an electric shock type of response.
It must be borne in mind that these events were entirely random. You cannot plan when and who would have a problem. Some students would rarely need help. Others would need a lot more support.
It is reported that I would kneel next to students to support them. This is quite true and is demonstrated clearly on the school’s promotional video on the school’s website.
The relevant clip runs from 1:30 to 1:34. The school has had this video in place for several years with no suggestion that it was in any way untoward. It promotes ICT in the school. It is not evidence of an assault.
The video clip show that there was limited space between students when teaching larger classes. It would probably be inevitable that I might brush against them or touch a hand accidently when taking control of the mouse.
Given the need to be efficient when doing a lot of one to one work, is the possibility of accidental contact more likely than the stream of filth, innuendo and dishonesty suggested by the school?
I have always taught in the same way and have been observed on many occasions. There was never a negative comment about how I interacted with students until very recently. Nobody has claimed to have observed me behaving inappropriately.
The computer room is an open room with a window in the door which allows sight of most of the room. There is a constant traffic of students and teachers collecting printing and collecting and returning laptops from the laptop trolley. Students would frequently be allowed to sit in spare seats to do homework or if they were exempted from games or PE. Teachers would frequently use a computer when their classrooms were in use.
There have been no similar claims since I became a member of the school staff. This may have something to do with the revision of my timetable, giving me smaller classes. With a smaller class there was more often a chair available to sit alongside a student and physical contact was less likely to occur. I would still kneel if that seemed more appropriate or convenient.
I have no recollection of touching a student’s leg, but it must be emphasised that the student reported it as an accident. I did stumble and fall on the footpath between the school buildings. This was recorded in the accident book, but the school won’t let me know the date. I sustained bruises and abrasions. I do not know if this was the incident specified. I recall that two female students helped me to my feet.
It should be obvious to anyone that the first concern of someone taking anticoagulants after a fall is cuts and bruises, not a child’s leg.
It was then alleged that two year 10 girls, in a distressed state, had reported that I had invited them to my home to do some 3D printing. I was confused by this. I have not taught any year 10 girls in my time at the school. My 3D printing schemes of work are for years 6 and 7. The girls, apparently, made their complaints during the last week of October 2017 but the alleged invitation was made during December 2016.
During the last week before Christmas 2016, I had allowed students to make Christmas cards or design something using the 3D design tool. There was no instruction on how to use the tool and no expectation that they would be successful. I have no recollection of anything about the lesson. The VLE shows that there was no tutorial available other than for years 6 and 7.
The girls claim that they asked if they could print their 3D work and that I had invited them to my home. This appears to be the main allegation and does not really hold water.
I am not so stupid to even think about inviting students to my home. It would be inappropriate and unprofessional. I have kept my school and private life entirely separate and do not discuss my personal life with students.
There is no evidence that the girls created anything that could be printed. I have asked if evidence could be provided, but I am not allowed access to it, if it indeed exists. Any such evidence would need to be obtained by an independent agent with confirmation of the date and time stamps.
There was no questioning of the students about what they designed.
There was no questioning of the students as to how they had submitted their work.
There was no questioning as to how and when the students would visit my house.
My home is a semi derelict tip. My wife is very unwell and cannot cope and I work to make enough to live in the absence of a decent pension. I also work because I enjoy working. My home is not somewhere people are invited.
I live more than 30 miles from the school. Apparently, the girls believed I must live locally.
The school simply assumed the worst, that I’m an Ian Huntley in the making. It appears that I invited the girls to my home to rape and murder them. They are not interested in the facts, but I some extreme fantasy. They are not willing to allow me access to evidence or to present a defence.
3D printing process
I decided to add design for 3D printing, CAD, CAM and CNC, to the curriculum during 2016-17 for years 6 and 7. A set of tutorials were placed of the school’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), accessible by students of those years. The school does not own a 3D printer so for demonstration purposes I took my own printer into school and allowed students to observe it in operation.
Year 6 VLE for ICT 2016/17
Year 7 VLE for Computing 2016/17
Year 8 VLE for Computing 2016/2017
Year 9 VLE for Computing 2016/2017
It can be seen that years 6 and 7 had a link to CAD, CAM and CNC, while years 8 and 9 did not.
I felt that the teaching would be more successful if students had a physical result from their designs and undertook to print any successful designs. The ICT department does not have a teaching budget and I realised that this work would be at my own expense. It would have been impractical to print 3D objects in school, so it was necessary to do the printing at home.
To be able to get students’ completed projects required setting up tasks on the VLE. Students would save their work by replying to a task request
Task request for 3D object
Students would click on “Choose file”, select the appropriate saved *.STL file from their user areas and click “Submit.” Once submitted, I was able to retrieve the saved files from the VLE at home.
A Typical name badge designed and submitted by a year 6 student
Once submitted, it was necessary to allocate a mark for the work. Most students made name badges, some made egg cups, a few made their own designs including a Gordian knot and a narwhal.
Inevitably, a few students submitted work that was incomplete, badly constructed or they submitted the wrong file. To ensure that everyone got something, I made a simple name badge for the creators of the failed attempts.
The students submitted stereolithography(STL) files. These had to be converted to object files for printing (X3G).
The conversion process takes a few minutes per file, depending on the complexity. A X3G file can then be saved for printing. The software provides some statistics related to printing time and materials.
A simple name tag prepared for printing
A more complex name tag prepared for printing
It can be seen that objects can take variable amounts of time.
To print an object, the files would be transferred to a SD card and inserted into the printer. The printer would have to be preheated and the printing material installed. Printing can then progress.
Processing and Printing in batches achieves economies of scale. To process and print one or two of even relatively simple files would take between one and a half and two hours.
The school made no effort to investigate any of this, telling me that it was irrelevant.
I believe that the students making the allegations were unaware of the process.
I have no recollection of the lesson during the last week of term. I would not have invited students to my home. M P, who has supported me in meetings suggested that the students may have misunderstood what was meant when they were told that the 3D printer was at my home. This seems a possibility, but not one that the school is prepared to accept.
It was alleged that I was spending time in the Nursery. In fact, the Nursery sent round an email flyer asking all teachers if anyone would like to be part of a storytelling session.
“From: ……… …….
Sent: 06 December 2016 08:56
Subject: Story Elves!
Good morning all
It’s that time of year when we would like to invite you into Nursery to read the children a story for Christmas – last year was really popular!!
If you would like to visit us Wednesday 14th December from 1pm until 3.30pm that would be fabulous please let us know a time slot.
We do have some books that you can use but if you would like to bring your own favourite or childhood story that would be good.
Hope to see soon
I volunteered and told a story to the children in the presence of their teachers. This was my only involvement with the Nursery.
It is alleged that only someone with suspicious motives would want to tell stories to infants. I tell stories to infants for the same reason I told them to my children and I tell them to my grandchildren. To entertain them, to see them laugh and smile and to help them learn.
I’m saddened that someone with a filthy mind w ants to suggest otherwise.
I have never had anything to do with the Brownies. No evidence was offered and the allegation was obviously malicious.
An allegation was made that I was looking at inappropriate material. The allegation was vague, but there was a definite time and date. The technicians investigated, and nothing was found. This should have been the end of the story. The school then countered with the suggestion that, as a computer expert, I was able to subvert the school network and remove the material.
Like every other teacher in the school, I had no administrative privileges and no ability to access the network settings. Any such access, if it was possible, would have itself been logged, probably raised suspicion and might well be a data protection act crime.
Everything is logged. If nothing was found it didn’t exist.
People with eye problems frequently have to suffer this kind of accusation. It is sad that it comes from teachers in a school. I’m accused of look at students “funny.”
Actually, I look at everyone funny. That’s what you do when you have amblyopia. It starts off as a “lazy eye.” Eventually your brain ignores the image from the lazy eye and you are effectively blind in that eye. For all intents and purposes, I am blind in my right eye and have been since childhood. I have little voluntary control over the eye which means that it wanders. I have experienced a lifetime of comments about looking “weird.”
I first became aware that I looked “weird” when I was in primary school. We learned to sing a sea shanty.
Here’s Harry Belafonte’s comic version:
and his more serious interpretation:
Other children would tease me, singing the song and calling me “a little drummer.” My reaction wasn’t to be upset about the teasing. My problem was that it was the cook who had the one eye, not the drummer.
There are limits to the jobs you can do when you look weird. In my youth I applied to join the police. I didn’t get past the first hurdle. The Army wasn’t keen either.
“Have you ever seen a scally-eyed copper?” was the first question. It is a requirement that police officers look “normal.”
There are obviously many jobs where full binocular vision is required and others where a conventional appearance is preferred.
Working in schools, I have lots of comments about “looking at people funny,” from students and teachers. It’s mostly females who read something into the weird look. Perhaps they assume that it’s in some way suggestive or a come on.
There are plenty of people who have survived a one-eyed/scally eyed life. Abraham Lincoln. Peter Falk, Jack Elam, Leo McKern, General Wavell, Admiral Nelson, Lord Kitchener, Gordon Brown, Jean-Paul Satre, … A quick search finds so many.
A quick search also finds the many jokes and comments that people who look weird have to put up with.
I’ve had lots of “what you looking at?” and “are you eyeing up my bird?” in my time, sometime with the offer of “a bunch of fives.”
I have the characteristic one-eyed squint. Sometimes if can be mistaken for winking.
Looking weird makes relationships difficult. Many women avoid weird looking men. I was lucky that, at the age of twenty-one, I met and fell in love with a woman who accepted me for who I am. We have been happily married and together for more than forty-eight years.
So yes, I do “look at people funny.” The accusation has been made that I do it on purpose and that it has some sinister, sexual motive. Most schools have taken a professional and supportive attitude when children ridicule my appearance. Suddenly, the burden of proof is on me to prove that I don’t look weird, squint and wink on purpose. I really don’t know how that is possible.
I am a lifetime teetotaller. I can drink a toast at an event or wedding. I am unable to drink alcohol in quantity because of an enzyme deficiency that prevents my processing alcohol metabolites. Perhaps someone noticed my staggering, as a result of neuropathic weakness, or smelled hyperglycaemic ketones on my breath. Since it was never mentioned previously, I put the accusation down to malice.
There is something ironic about two teachers who are prepared to stand up in court and call me a paedophile, but didn’t have the courage to say, “move along a bit,” in the staffroom. The size and shape of the tiny staffroom must be observed with up to a dozen teachers in it to see that the claim is nonsense.
I have never written anything pornographic. There are currently two of my books for children available in paperback and on kindle. Neither of them has any pornographic content. They are correctly registered with the British Library and have ISBN numbers. It is obvious that nobody making the allegations has ever read any of my novels – I use a nom de plume – and that the accusations are clearly the work of a filthy and malicious mind.
During the early 2000’s I reported to a headteacher that there were unpleasant allegations being made about her school on social media. The person making the allegations sued me and, after a lot of time wasting procedure, he abandoned the case with my agreement and to my relief. I decided not to pursue a case against him. I complained, with others, to the High Court and he was made a vexatious litigant. I mentioned this in passing to the school gossip.
It seems that she rushed to tell my former line manager and they concocted a strange story about a school I had previously worked at. They had the bare bones of the story and must have guessed, wrongly, that it happened at a previous employer. In fact, it was about a school that I had never worked at not even visited.
It demonstrates just how low they will sink in their search for dirt.
I sound thick, and by implication I am thick.
How can you teach children who have regional accents when you think they are thick?
Ronnie Barker took a lot of racist jokes and transposed them so that the characters were yokels, on the assumption that “nobody is going to phone in and complain that they are a yokel and that their human rights have been breached.” This means that people who speak with a “particular accent” are, what the BBC calls. “acceptable targets.”
I was never “thick” before I became a teacher. I have tended to ignore students’ taunts about “tractors” and “combine harvesters,” unless they became intrusive. The times that I have sought assistance with discipline issues because of students ridiculing my accent, I ‘ve been told by senior teachers, “it’s your own fault for sounding like a … yokel.”
I’m supposed to speak without an accent and I can’t. I left school at fourteen and did not start teaching until I was fifty. In most jobs, nobody cares about accents. When I ran a business, companies in France and Spain didn’t know any different and those in the US thought I was Australian.
There are fewer examples of thick yokels who made good but two will suffice. Ernest Bevin was an effective member of Churchill’s war Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in the difficult post war years. He left at fourteen and worked as an agricultural labourer and on the docks – just like me.
Phil Harding the archaeologist likes to celebrate having a Somerset accent.
So, I do sound “thick,” and that is obviously inappropriate in a private school. Can I prove that I don’t do it on purpose? I have no idea how I can.
The events of 2015-2015 were on my record, but were not resurrected for more than two years. If, as is suggested, they were serious sexual assaults, why were they not acted upon sooner?
If “every teacher in the school is prepared to testify against you,” why aren’t most of them being investigated for their failing in their duty of care for not reporting until now?
Why is the school not prepared to allow a proper forensic investigation of the allegations?
Why were the police not involved at an early stage?
The School, Cognita and ICT and Computing
ICT and Computing are regarded as trivial and inconsequential subjects and as a result no budget was allocated. To enhance and improve the subject I was obliged to spend my own money on resources. To make the 3D design module effective meant that I had to print in my own time using my own printer and filaments.
To use the BBC Micro:bits, I had to buy my own components and crocodile clips.
If I wanted a book I had to buy it myself.
I have been working on a robotics module. To do this effectively meant that I have had to purchase a lot of electronic equipment and to design, laser cut and 3D print robot parts. There was no prospect of getting any financial help with this. I think the school believed that I should have limited myself to having the students make PowerPoints.
Some of the things I paid for with my own money are still in the school. A few electronics components; a portable hard drive; three books; a wall clock (in celebration of Grace Hooper) and two digital cameras. I’ve asked for their return, but I don’t live in hope of any decency which will see them returned
This was not an admission of guilt. My wife was extremely distressed at the allegations and the threats of my being imprisoned. She was terrified that I would die in prison and that she would be left alone. Not for one minute does she believe that I invited teenage girls to my home. Aware of this I was offered the option of resigning and the case would be dropped. My wife pleaded with me to put an end to it and accept this. Once they had my resignation they reneged on the agreement. They clearly understood that age discrimination attracts penalties.