Former Bulwell teacher who pinned boy against door who 'couldn't breathe' avoids ban after four-year investigation

A former Bulwell teacher says his career was ruined by an investigation into whether he was too forceful in breaking up a fight between pupils.
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John Ashworth stepped in to intervene in an incident between two children while he was a teacher at Bulwell Academy in October 2019.

A teacher misconduct panel heard the English teacher lifted one boy around his chest and held him pinned against a door – even after the pupil told him ‘I can’t breathe’.

But the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) has now decided Mr Ashworth should not be stopped from teaching because of his previous good record and value to the classroom.

John Ashworth was a teacher at Bulwell Academy when the incident happened back in 2019John Ashworth was a teacher at Bulwell Academy when the incident happened back in 2019
John Ashworth was a teacher at Bulwell Academy when the incident happened back in 2019

The regulatory panel, which sat on September 12, was shown CCTV footage of Mr Ashworth, a former Army Sapper, appearing to throw the boy.

One eyewitness said: “Sir came out and dragged and slammed him against the toilet door.”

Other students remembered hearing the boy say ‘I can’t breathe’.

Mr Ashworth says it was a split-second decision to protect a colleague and a child, and that he hasn’t been able to work as a teacher since.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “When I started working at Bulwell, it had a reputation as a challenging school.

"However, children usually responded positively to the discipline I brought, and I was well received at the school,”

“On this occasion, play fighting between a group of boys had got out of hand, and one child was on top of another, beating him.

“The victim had no chance of getting up.

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“Another teacher had been knocked to the floor while trying to stop it.

“I wasn’t supposed to get involved as I was severely disabled due to my heart condition, but I asked if she needed help and she pleaded with me to restrain the boy.

“The incident made my heart condition worse, and I was hospitalised afterwards.

"The stress made me even more ill.

“It was effectively the end of my teaching career.

“Even though the TRA concluded that I shouldn’t be banned, no school would hire me while the investigation was ongoing.

“Do I regret stepping in to protect a child from a beating, or to protect another teacher? Not at all.

“Do I regret that it put me in hospital and destroyed my teaching career? Absolutely.

“When you’re ex-military, you have to make split second decisions, but looking back I should have gone to get help instead.”

The panel heard pupils made a ‘bring back Mr Ashworth’ poster to campaign for his return to school, and he was regarded by colleagues as a ‘committed teacher’.

The panel found his actions continued beyond what was necessary and was unacceptable professional conduct.

But it stopped short of making an order barring him from the teaching profession.

The Bulwell Academy is part of the Creative Education Trust (CET).

A CET spokesperson said: “Bulwell Academy remains focused on supporting all students to succeed in a safe and supportive environment and safeguarding will always be our top priority.”