Teacher criticised for rape discussion with pupils

Pupils in classroom

A teacher misconduct panel was held into a lesson conducted by Janet Larter - Credit: PA

A teacher brought her profession into disrepute with her comments on a local rape and murder case during a discussion with a class of 11-year-olds, an official report has found.

Janet Larter, a former science teacher, faced a teacher misconduct panel following the Year 7 biology lesson, in which the subject of sexual assault was discussed while she was at North Walsham High School.

The panel heard how Ms Larter had startled children by referring to a local rape and murder case, telling pupils "the perpetrator had never been found", while also describing an example of a bottle being used as a weapon in a sexual assault.

The lesson, in February 2017, sparked a complaint from a parent, prompting the school to launch an investigation.

This found a number of pupils had reported signs of distress as a result of the discussion, "including one who reported they had not slept as a result".

Following other allegations of "inappropriate comments" from the teacher, the matter was referred to the Teaching Regulation Agency for further investigations and a panel hearing.

The panel judged that the comments made during the lesson had "put the profession in disrepute", but it did not feel it would be appropriate to ban Ms Larter from teaching.

Most Read

The panel's report, which was published this week, said: "The conduct took place only once, in one class. Ms Larter had not intended to cause harm to the pupils.

"The panel concluded that she was well-meaning, but made a significant misjudgement in the approach she took on this one occasion."

Meanwhile, the panel dismissed other allegations of other inappropriate comments Ms Larter was said to have made.

It was claimed she had told male pupils that a penis "needs to be the size of a Pritt Stick and as thick".

While she accepted making a glue stick comparison, she denied using the phrase "needs to", with the panel considering the allegation unproven.

She was also accused of naming a former pupil who found a cancerous lump, and making a comment to a parent about a female pupil's appearance, including a sexual innuendo.

But the panel also judged there to be insufficient evidence of these remarks.

The report adds: "While Ms Larter had not acted under duress, she had not deliberately set out to cause harm."

Russell Boulton, chief executive Enrich Learning Trust, which took over at the school two years after the incident, said there had been a transformational change during its time under the leadership of a new headteacher.

He added: "The teacher cited has not been a part of our organisation and departed the school well in advance of the school becoming part of Enrich Learning Trust in October 2019."