Saturday, 5 March 2011

Arson Marker
Teacher charged with ‘constructive arson with intent to destroy marking’ can return to work says GTC
A teacher from Leeds who continued to park his cars on a notorious housing estate despite them being repeatedly set on fire has been told he can return to work.  Mark Butts, a geography teacher at Mappleton School, was suspended last May after being accused by his headteacher of “going out of his way to get his students’ work set on fire.”
A General Teaching Council disciplinary panel heard that Mr Butts, who has lost seven cars to arson on the Bridgeham Estate over an eighteen month period, continued to regularly park his car on the estate despite facing a five mile walk home and an annual insurance premium of £4567. 
But the GTC panel concluded that Mr Butts had done nothing wrong:
 “Mr Butt’s habit of packing his car with boxes of firelighters, sticks, sacks of coal, exercise books and GCSE coursework before parking it on a notorious housing estate five miles from his home is unusual,” said GCT panel chair Esther Richards, “but not unprofessional.  We mustn’t jump to conclusions.”
A fire crew struggles valiently to prevent work from being arson marked
Teaching union SNATWU have welcomed the decision to allow Mr Butts to return to work claiming that Mr Butt’s was a victim of his own diligence: “By taking work home Mr Butts has naively left himself wide open to completely unjustified accusations that he might be trying to get his marking destroyed in a fire.   We are strongly urging our members to safeguard their careers by never taking children’s work home.”
But the decision not to discipline Mr Butts has left at least one parent furious:
“Last Friday night my eldest set fire to his brother’s GCSE coursework and his sister’s Yr 8 Rainforest project without knowing.  It’s outrageous that this teacher is not going to be blamed in some way,” said one mother of three.
Mr Butts, who has always refused to say why he kept a cigarette lighter selloptaped to the petrol cap of his car, claimed the ruling was “a victory for common sense”, adding, “some of the work was of very poor quality anyway, and needed a lot of kindling to get going.”

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