18-month ban for teacher who took school trip money

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A SCIENCE teacher who forged a parent’s cheque so he could pay it into his own account has been suspended for 18 months.

Vincent Start took the £100 cheque from a pupil for a school trip.

He then altered it to make it payable to himself, but was caught and convicted of forgery at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court in April 2009.

Governors at City of Portsmouth Boys’ School gave him a ‘final warning’ at the time.

But Start was eventually sacked in February last year for gross misconduct after he continued to handle school sales – even though he had been told not to.

The General Teaching Council (GTC) has now handed him an 18-month teaching ban for unacceptable professional conduct.

City of Portsmouth Boys headteacher Mike Smith said: ‘I’m pleased the GTC recognises this conduct is unacceptable in any workplace. Mr Start has been punished by losing his job. I hope if he is ever employed as a teacher again he will learn from his mistakes.’

Mr Start, who joined City Boys in June 2003, had initially appealed the school’s decision but a second governing panel upheld their ruling.

After considering all the evidence, including Mr Start’s conviction and subsequent flouting of school rules, the GTC decided to enforce a temporary ban.

The GTC found that despite being warned more than once, Mr Start did not follow school rules forbidding members of staff from handling money. It said he failed in November 2009 to safeguard school funds worth £170 – the cost of 68 revision guides he personally sold to pupils before the money went missing.

Andrew Connell, GTC chairman, said the panel had concerns as to whether Start fully appreciated the seriousness of his behaviour – but that it had not reached the ‘threshold’ of being incompatible with being a teacher.

He added: ‘We have concluded the proportionate sanction to maintain public confidence in the profession is a suspension order for 18 months.’