Modern studies teacher apologises for Irish mugs and music mistakes
By Democrat reporter
A Dumbarton teacher, who has been cleared of leaking exam questions and having inappropriate IRA-related material in his modern studies classroom, has been allowed to continue teaching.
Jim Beattie, pictured right, who taught modern studies at Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School, was investigated by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) after facing a number of allegations.
He was transferred from OLSP to Vale of Leven Academy pending the outcome of the case against him which was raised by West Dunbartonshire Council’s education department.
He admitted to “inappropriate” behaviour in his classroom, including having a “Free Derry” Christmas card, as well as a postcard and mug with an image of IRA activist Bobby Sands.
He also admitted contacting pupils via private email address and sharing “inappropriate” Irish music with a probationary teacher.
GTCS published its findings at the weekend. The hearing ended last month.
The Edinburgh-based body said the panel which examined the case “found that there was no current impairment of fitness to teach.”
It read that Mr Beattie had expressed “his sense of deep regret at having gone through the disciplinary process and expressed considerable remorse for his actions”.
And continued: “He said that teaching is more than just a job to him and that he would never do anything again to put his career in jeopardy.
“He said that he wanted nothing more than to continue working in the teaching profession, which he truly loves and respects.”
Allegations that he used prior knowledge of the content in a 2014 modern studies exam to advise pupils on the areas to study and that he used the sectarian slur “hun” in his notes, were declared not proven.
The published decision stated that Mr Beattie denied that a note containing the phrase “hun town” was on his desk but that he “appreciated that the language was not appropriate and that the note should never have been in the school”.
Regarding the “inappropriate” Irish music he shared, the report “conceded that some of the songs that he gave to the probationer teacher included political references and that it was inappropriate to bring material of that type into school.
“Whilst at the time he did not consider the music to be in any way offensive, the teacher said that he very much regrets causing any upset to the individual concerned.”
Mr Beattie also agreed that sending emails to pupils via personal email “could blur the boundaries between a teacher and his/her pupils”.
However, he maintained that the content was “entirely appropriate and related to the course that he was teaching.”
The teacher also agreed it was inappropriate to have the “Free Derry” postcards and Bobby Sands mug in his classroom, “particularly within a school based in the West of Scotland.”
However, he denied the allegation put by an investigating officer that the postcards were clearly visible on the walls of the classroom and that the mug was on display.
Mr Beattie did however, “agree that he should have thrown the mug away rather than keep it at school.”