Teacher banned for five years for Charlie Hebdo comments

Tower Hamlets Inclusion Support Centre and Pupil Referral Unit. Pic: Mike Faherty

A former teacher of a Tower Hamlets school has been banned from teaching for at least five year for a range of disciplinary offences, including making a comment appearing to condone the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris.

Hamza Jalal Tariq, who worked at Tower Hamlet’s Pupil Referral Unit, was also found to have given a pupil a ‘wedgie’, sworn in front of pupils, had play fights with pupils and allowed them to smoke. Tariq also said, “f*** [her], that f****** b****” about another teacher.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) published its decision to ban Tariq from teaching after its teaching misconduct panel examined evidence about the allegations. Tariq did not attend the hearing, despite its location having been moved to London at his request to make it easier for him and other witnesses to attend.

One witness told the panel that when a student informed Tariq about the shootings at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were killed, he responded, “they should be killed for insulting the prophet.” In his initial disciplinary interview at the PRU Tariq said this was “total crap”.

The panel also found that Tariq deliberately neglected his responsibilities to teach Maths during lessons. He was unable to show adequate marking and teaching records, covered his classroom door whilst teaching, and failed to support another member of staff in dealing with a behaviour incident.

Tariq denied the allegations although he admitted jumping onto a table. He could not be reached for comment but earlier claimed the allegations were fabricated and told the Evening Standard: “It is a complete fabrication and utter joke from start to beginning. I can’t remember these incidents being mentioned. Charlie Hebdo has never been mentioned to me for me to know about so that I can give any explanation.”

The panel found that the former teacher’s Charlie Hebdo comment “was symptomatic of his childish and immature attitude to teaching, and his desire to curry favour with pupils.” It said his remark was made to “shock and impress pupils”, rather than as an expression of “religious intolerance or hatred”.

Tariq began working for the PRU – a specialist school across four sites in the borough – in 2013, firstly as a supply teacher and then as a maths teacher. He primarily worked at Third Base – where challenging students are referred to for short periods before returning to mainstream schools – from where he was suspended in February last year before resigning last April.

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets council said: “Tower Hamlets Council were made aware of allegations against Mr Tariq in February 2015 and immediately initiated multi-agency child protection procedures in liaison with the Police Child Abuse Investigation Team accordingly.”

The spokesperson added: “The school subsequently followed the recommendations to fully investigate the concerns, to initiate disciplinary proceedings as necessary and subject to the outcome of this to make a referral to the NCTL as appropriate.”

Tariq has 28 days to appeal the ban, which prohibits him from teaching for a minimum of five years, after which he can ask for a case review.


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