Harrogate school teacher set himself on fire ‘because of work stress’

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A SCHOOL teacher in Harrogate set himself on fire because he was stressed about his pupils’ exam results, an inquest has heard.

David Charlesworth, 43, set himself on fire in the car park of Rossett School in Harrogate - where he was a popular science teacher - in the early hours of May 11 last year.

An inquest at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court today heard he managed to return home and ring for an ambulance but died the next day.

Police found burned clothes, a fuel canister, a rucksack and notes at the school.

The inquest heard Mr Charlesworth seemed to become more stressed around exam time and had been ignored by therapists despite four reminders from his GP.

The court heard about a note Mr Charlesworth had written, reading: “I’m massively disappointed in the coursework marks this year for my groups.”

His wife, Jennifer, also a science teacher, told the court that he had taken coursework on their holiday to mark.

She said: “He was vulnerable. He told me that he felt very responsible for it all.

“He felt under pressure to make sure the children got the grades and that the pressure was only his.

“And that wasn’t comfortable with him.”

Dr Allan Gilbert, a counsellor who saw David in 2009 and 2010, told the inquest: “Dave told me he was stressed at school. It was stress that he created himself. He had very high standards.

“It was his own perception that he wasn’t as good as he had been, that he couldn’t cope, that he couldn’t do it.

“We discussed the possibility that teaching wasn’t for him, but he felt nervous about this because he had a young family to support.”

His GP, Dr Alan Cunningtham, said he “may have benefited” from cognitive behavioural therapy in April.

But the inquest was told that despite chasing up the appointment four times, he was never seen by the therapists.

Deputy North Yorkshire Coroner Geoff Fell said: “There seems to have been a lot of inputs, but no outcomes. That’s a lot of exchanges for nothing to happen.”

The hearing continues.