UK

Teacher, 66, banned after leaving an open can of Stella in her classroom and knocking over a child

Primary school teacher, 66, is banned after leaving an open can of Stella in her classroom and knocking over a child when she was ‘falling down drunk’

  • Teacher Angela Simonson, 66, reported ‘stinking of drink’ during the school day
  • She stumbled, knocked over a child & left an open can of beer in her classroom 
  • Blamed side effects of medication as well as a new pair of high-heeled boots 

A primary school teacher has been banned after a panel heard she was ‘falling down drunk’, knocked a child over and left an open can of beer in her classroom.

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Colleagues of Angela Simonson, 66, reported her as ‘stinking of drink’ and struggling to stay on her feet.

The hearing of the Education Workforce Council was told Mrs Simonson, who taught at Central Primary School, Port Talbot, for 12 years, was so intoxicated she barged into a child.

Robert Purchase, who was the headteacher at the time in December 2014, said after concerns were raised, an open and almost full can of Stella Artois was found under the sink in her classroom.

He said: ‘It wasn’t a locked cupboard. The cupboard could have been accessed by a pupil at any time.’

Angela Simonson, 66, had been a teacher at Central Primary School, Port Talbot, for 12 years   

Christine Jarvis, then a lunchtime supervisor, said Mrs Simonson was ‘stumbling and needed something to help her stand upright’ in the playground during the lunchtime break.

She added: ‘It was like she was using the wall to help her stand.

‘Mrs Simonson was not behaving normally. She didn’t do what she usually did. Instead of coming to the front of the line of children she leaned against the wall, she staggered to the classroom.

‘She knocked into one of the children, waved her hands in the air and leaned against the wall.

‘She was quite literally falling over drunk.’

Mrs Simonson, who was not present at the EWC hearing, said in a written statement that she could ‘neither recall nor explain’ what headteacher Mr Toft was describing.

Her lawyer Jonathan Storey blamed the incident on side effects from medication she was taking, as well as wearing a new pair of high-heeled boots and an on-going issue of having ‘bad breath because of a low-carbohydrate diet’.

He acknowledged she had been ‘drinking at home during a dinner party with friends’ until around 11pm the night before where she had around three-quarters of a bottle of wine.

She said in a statement: ‘In hindsight, I realise this was unprofessional and I’m sorry. It is impossible that this small amount of alcohol would have caused my unsteadiness.’

Jonathan Toft, who worked alongside her as a Year 4 teacher, said ‘I realised I could smell alcohol on Angela. She was unfocused and couldn’t remember what had been discussed at the meeting later.

An open can of Belgian beer Stella was found in an unlocked cupboard which could have been discovered by a schoolchild

An open can of Belgian beer Stella was found in an unlocked cupboard which could have been discovered by a schoolchild

‘She was slurring, staggering and stinking of drink. We could smell it in the room, everybody could smell it’.

A teacher for 40 years, Mrs Simonson was described as a ‘lovely teacher that was quite eccentric’ and a ‘lovely person with an exuberant character’.

In her closing remarks, presenting officer Cadi Dewi, said ‘These were primary school-age children, aged eight and nine, she was their teacher.

‘It was morally reprehensible behaviour and it was very clearly unacceptable.’

As well as finding that she was present at work on one of more occasion between 1-8 December 2014, smelling of alcohol, having consumed alcohol before or at work or was under the influence of alcohol, they ruled these breaches amounted to a ‘lack of integrity and unacceptable professional conduct’.

Banning her for two years lay chair Steve Powell said ‘She has not demonstrated any significant insight into her behaviour – instead of addressing her shortcomings, Mrs Simonson repeated her conduct in a single week in December 2014.

‘In her response to the concerns raised, she has not presented as an individual who took the concerns sufficiently seriously.’

She must provide regular assessments to the Education Workforce Council about her health in order to assess her fitness to work if she wishes to return to the profession.

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