The teacher who is allergic to school

I’m a massive fan of Educating Yorkshire as most of you who follow my blog regularly will probably have guess by now. But one teacher on that show has been hit by the media’s attention. Mr Steer, Deputy Head and Maths teacher, constantly kept going for his pupils despite the body underneath him seemingly falling apart more and more each day.

But the Channel 4 documentary star suffers from a mixture of severe skin conditions leaving him suffering painful reactions to dozens of classroom items. He often has to wear gloves to teach at Thornhill Community Academy in a bid to avoid suffering an allergic reaction to red ink, smartboards, plastic chairs, computer screens, rulers, glue sticks, folders and marker pens.

The deputy head teacher, 36, battles sensitivity to potassium dichromate, eczema and dermatitis, and can see his hands and skin swell up and become raw after contact with the chemical.

Mr Steer said: ‘The three skin conditions essentially combine to create the perfect storm – meaning there’s a whole host of things in a classroom I’m allergic to. I can’t hold stationery, can’t touch the board and can’t mark students’ work with red pens. Every day I wake up and go to work I’m walking into a giant death trap. I’m allergic to the whole school.’

Alongside his duty to introduce teenagers to trigonometry, Mr Steer works tirelessly to improve the school’s overall standards. His workhorse attitude can often trigger reactions as stress can make him more prone to allergic reactions. He has suffered painful reactions to potassium dichromate from an early age – something that has proved difficult to live with as the substance is found in thousands of products such as dyes and colourings, adhesives, mobile phones, colour photos, paper, paint, shoes, wood polish and soap.

And when he comes into contact with a product that contains the compound, his condition will immediately flare up.

Mr Steer said: ‘When I come into contact with the chemical my hands will balloon or sores will flare up, my knuckles will become stiff and tender to move. It comes and goes, it gets better, and it gets worse. Being in a school environment there’s a lot of things I cannot use. And if I do come into contact with something my body essentially attacks itself. When doctors first diagnosed it they gave me a whole list of things I was allergic to – from aeroplanes to army uniforms, match heads to raw chicken. It’s a really bizarre condition that I’ve had to adapt to. I try to not let it affect me and my job.’

I remember watching the series and his leg had flared up and looked like a complete mess. He still kept going, despite the headteacher constantly telling him to get it looked at. This man is a hero.


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