Banned: Assistant head who misled parents over trips away with pupils

Life ban for former RE teacher at private school who formed inappropriate relationships with three male pupils

Mark Smulian

A former senior leader at a prestigious independent Catholic school has been banned for life from teaching for inappropriate relationships with three male pupils.

Dr Stephen Jones, who taught religious education and became "assistant deputy headmaster" at St Columba’s College, St Albans, from 2002 until his dismissal for gross misconduct in 2015.
He has now been found to have acted unprofessionally and dishonestly by a teaching regulation agency professional conduct panel. But allegations that he had a sexual motivation were not found to be proven.

The panel found that Dr Jones failed to maintain proper professional boundaries and allowed an inappropriate relationship with Pupil A that amounted to the teacher acting as though a "third parent".

He went on holiday to Italy with Pupil A and his family in 2014 without informing the school, to Canada later the same year – where he spent five days alone with the pupil – and to Ireland the following year, when he and Pupil A travelled back alone.

Dr Jones was also found to have given expensive gifts to Pupil A, had telephone and text message contact with him, and to have taken him on trips that the pupil had deceived his parents into believing were official school activities. He was also found to have shared a hotel room with Pupil A.
Counselling sessions for Pupil A on college premises were arranged without informing the school or seeking full parental consent.
The panel also found that Dr Jones breached the terms of a suspension from his job by contacting Pupil A despite being warned not to do so. Pupils B and C were taken on a trip to the New Forest without any other adult present and without the school or parents knowing this.

The panel said it “went to great lengths to understand Dr Jones’ motivations in carrying out the actions”, but concluded that while he had in some respects been dishonest, he was not sexually motivated on the balance of probabilities.

Its ruling said: “In his actions, Dr Jones displayed a flagrant disregard for the policies of the college. The panel further found Dr Jones’ behaviour to be indicative of self-propagated exceptionalism. The panel finds that such behaviour is not one which can be tolerated in the profession. 

“Whilst the teaching profession is and remains a broad church where differing pedagogies can coexist, this is in part achieved through a universal acknowledgement that, regardless of the methodology adopted by the teacher, the appropriate boundaries in teacher-pupil relationships are respected at all times."

The panel said Dr Jones had shown no insight into his actions since his dismissal and these “amount to a complete failure of professional integrity”. 
It said a prohibition order with no review period was appropriate and Department for Education decisionmaker Alan Meyrick endorsed this, adding: “In view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against him, I have decided that Dr Stephen Jones shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.”

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