Claim teachers called student 'a retard' and 'gay'
TWO Plymouth teachers are facing disciplinary action following claims a teenage student was branded a "retard" in the classroom.
An internal investigation was launched by private firm PSC Training and Development after the 16-year-old said he felt "bullied" off a carpentry course run by the firm.
It found the language used by carpentry teacher Sam Warren to be "wholly inappropriate" and states that the youngster was "singled out and treated unfairly" by the teacher on at least three occasions.
Fellow carpentry trainer Ian Thomas was also found to have used inappropriate language towards the boy, after referring to him as "gay".
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The Ridgeway School student, who wants to remain anonymous, was training at PSC's Plympton centre two days a week as part of the Tamar Valley Consortium programme, a city-wide scheme aimed at providing hands-on vocational training for school pupils.
But the Plympton teenager has now ditched his dreams of becoming a professional carpenter after the experience. "I couldn't spend another day in there," he said. "I just felt I had to get out.
"You have your mind set on something and then it just all goes wrong."
He said he felt "bullied" by the pair during workshops, eventually filing seven official complaints against them.
He now has to travel all the way to Cornwall College Saltash after enrolling on a construction course focused on bricklaying, plumbing and electrical installation.
In a letter seen by The Herald, PSC's Stephen Jeffery, who headed the investigation, recommended disciplinary action be taken against Mr Thomas for calling the youngster "gay" – something he described as "totally unacceptable". Another allegation against the teacher was not proved.
The investigation showed Mr Warren had referred to the 16-year-old as a "retard", ordering another pupil to stop helping him with his work.
He also singled out the teenager on two other occasions, threatening only him with written warnings for misbehaviour, when other students had also been involved.
Two further accusations against Mr Warren were not proved.
Last month, an Essex teacher was sacked on the spot after allegedly calling a class of 10-year-old children "retards".
But PSC managing director Mark Boulting said he could not reveal when the appropriate disciplinary action would be taken against the pair.
He told The Herald: "We carried out an internal investigation in to the matter and we determined that language which had apparently been used in a training setting fell outside that which the company deems to be acceptable.
"Whilst this is the first complaint against staff members, PSC takes this issue extremely seriously and has instigated appropriate action.
"However, since this process is a confidential staffing matter and ongoing, we are unable to comment further at this time."
Mr Boulting added that the private company, which is used by over 1,000 learners in the South West, was deemed 'good' by inspectors and enjoys success rates above national averages.
Ridgeway School did not wish to comment on the matter.
Plymouth City Council, which brokers such training programmes on behalf of Plymouth schools, said it had "no involvement" with the in-house investigation.
A spokeswoman said: "We understand that the training provider in question is carrying out investigations into a complaint made about two teachers currently working for the company.
"We await the outcome and subsequent actions of the investigation."
The boy's mother said she was worried that the two teachers were continuing to take classes with pupils who could be as young as 14.
"My son has gone from a child who loved woodwork to someone who can't even face it," she said. "PSC seem supportive – but I'm concerned the pupils are still in there being taught by these men."
Mr Warren and Mr Thomas did not return emails and phone calls from The Herald.