Suspended teacher puts pupils first

By Mike Dinsdale of The Northern Advocate -
Nigel Studdart, Pompallier School's suspended science teacher. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Nigel Studdart, Pompallier School's suspended science teacher. Photo / Michael Cunningham

A Suspended Far North teacher begins privately tutoring his science students after school from today to ensure they are prepared for NCEA exams.

Pompallier Catholic College teacher Nigel Studdart was suspended last Wednesday - the same day some students planned a silent protest against principal Richard Stanton's comments opposing Parliament's same sex marriage bill in a school newsletter.

Many pupils expressed outrage at the principal's comments on Facebook page and some planned to wear rainbow ribbons to show their support for gay marriage.

Mr Studdart said he was told he was being suspended after he encouraged students to display their support by wearing a rainbow wristband.

He has since gained the support of his union, many of the school's students and gay and lesbian support groups around the country.

Mr Studdart said because he was being paid to teach, even though suspended, he would offer after-school tutorials to his science and chemistry Year 10 and 11 NCEA level one and two students.

The first tutorials will be held today in a building donated for his use by a local real estate firm. More than a dozen students, with support from their parents, had said they would attend.

Mr Studdart said this was the most important part of the year for students, with some peak preparation time for exams. He wanted to ensure they were ready. Parents had even offered to pay him for tutorials, but he refused to accept money.

"I'm getting paid to teach, even though I'm suspended, so I thought I'd still get on and teach the students as best I can," he said.

"My students will be the ones that suffer most [through the suspension], with a relieving teacher in."

Mr Studdart hopes to hold further tutorials throughout the week if there is enough interest.

will be running NCEA level one science tutorials today and level two chemistry tutorials from the site on Thursday.

He had yet to hear from Pompallier's board of trustees on when he would face a hearing.

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