Michael Gove banned four teachers for cocaine possession


At least four teachers were banned from the profession for being caught with cocaine during Michael Gove’s tenure as education secretary.

The Conservative party leadership contender was criticised this weekend after it emerged he had taken cocaine while working as a journalist 20 years ago.

Analysis of teacher misconduct hearings by Schools Week found during Gove’s tenure at least eight teachers were banned for drug-related offences.

Four of these included offences relating to cocaine, and three of the four teachers were banned from the profession for life. Decisions to ban teachers are made by somebody acting on behalf of the secretary of state.

Gove has been accused of hypocrisy from MPs over his cocaine admission.

Speaking at his leadership bid launch today, Gove was questioned why his admission doesn’t disqualify him from being prime minister when teachers can be disqualified for possessing the drug.

“If someone had said that before they entered teaching they made mistakes that would be no bar, and there’s been some misreporting about the way those terms apply to teachers.”

It had been reported that the Department for Education brought in tougher guidance for banning teachers in 2013.

However others have pointed out that rules around class A drugs leading to a potential teaching ban were in place before Gove joined the department in 2010.

Michael Younghusband was banned from the profession in July 2014 after being convicted of possessing cocaine with intent to supply. The geography and maths teacher was jailed after being caught out carrying a £30,000 cocaine deal.

The panel stated this was a “fundamental breach of the high standards of personal and professional conduct” required by the teaching standards. The report added: “Teachers have to conduct themselves as role models to both pupils and the general public.”

The other three teachers banned for being caught with cocaine also had other offences on their records. Two more cases involved teachers being caught with drugs other than cocaine, with another two relating to production of drugs.

Another teacher, Tamsin Connolly, was spared a teaching ban in November 2013 for using class A and B drugs because she was of good character, and had showed regret and insight into the matter.

Mark Lehain, director of Parents and Teachers for Excellence lobby group, wrote yesterday: “Assuming Gove’s dodgy recreational habits ended before he entered parliament, I don’t think we can attack him for rules that say practising teachers shouldn’t take hard drugs.

“Teachers work with young people and so it is right that we expect high standards from them in their private and professional lives. This is also true of those who choose to enter public service.

“But we cannot, and should not, hold people to these kind of standards for things they did before entering professional realms. To do so would count out a whole load of talented people with much to offer, from all sorts of walks of life – and would be wrong.”

Online records for misconduct hearing outcomes were only available from May 2012. It means the true number of banned teachers under Gove’s tenure, which started in 2010, is likely to be higher.

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  1. Mark Watson

    Oh come on, this is pathetic.
    Gove didn’t personally ban anyone, and I can’t imagine he had any involvement in the process whatsoever. I think it would have been rather more worrying if he had intervened and overturned a decision to ban someone because he personally didn’t think it was so bad.
    We then read a bit further and it transpires one of the four was a dealer, busted buying £30,000 worth of cocaine. Just slightly different circumstances then. The equivalent of equating someone going at 75 mph on the motorway with someone going 200 mph. The other three banned teachers also sound like it wasn’t just a case of “a bit of recreational use”.
    I know you want to pander to the Gove-haters out there as it’s your core audience, but there is plenty of substantive stuff out there you could address rather than this rubbish which isn’t worthy of the Daily Star.

  2. ‘…we cannot, and should not, hold people to these kind of standards for things they did before entering professional realms,’ says Mark Lehain.
    In this case, the ‘things they did’ include committing a criminal offence. It’s irrelevant whether it was done before, during or outside professional employment.
    Taking Class A drugs isn’t a victimless crime as Gove wrote in his 1999 Times article. But then he went off to host a party where cocaine was used. This is more serious than a few teachers being punished (rightly) for taking hard drugs.

    • Mark Watson

      Of course it’s relevant. If he was busted for cocaine while he was a journalist it would’ve been grounds for him to be sacked from his job. No doubt.
      But are you seriously saying that no-one who commits any crime, even if they were never caught, should be automatically barred from responsible office for the rest of their life? Are people not allowed to learn from personal experiences and change their mind?
      Should anyone who smoked a joint at university be prohibited from ever being a politician?
      Should anyone who broke the speed limit as a teenager be prohibited from joining the police?
      Or how about the former gang member, imprisoned for drugs, violence etc., who turns himself around and becomes a model teacher able to relate to disadantaged kids.
      And sorry, ” hosting a party where cocaine was used” is indescribably less serious than “being caught out carrying a £30,000 cocaine deal”.

      • No, I’m not suggesting that no-one who commits a crime should be automatically be banned from a responsible job for ever.
        There is always a chance of redemption. As you say, a former gang member who’s paid the price for his (or her) crime could become a model teacher.
        There’s also a difference between an undergraduate smoking pot at uni and a mature man (described by the Mail in 2010 as having been a ‘senior executive’ at the Times) snorting a Class A drug. Even if that crime could be dismissed as having happened 20 years ago, there’s the awkward question of this ‘senior executive’ writing an article condemning hard drug use while condoning it. It rather suggests double standards.