A TEACHER convicted of a pornography offence is running a private tuition service in Sussex, offering GSCE and A-level courses to children.
Keith Hudson worked in a series of independent schools in the mid-nineties. In 1998 he was convicted at Croydon Crown Court of an offence involving pornography. He was fined pound;750 with pound;1,000 costs. Mr Hudson appealed against his sentence but lost.
Mr Hudson told The TES this week that he had been unaware of a change in Custom and Exise rules "regarding naturist publications in which children were depicted".
At the time he was also doing supply work in East Sussex. The county council removed him from their supply register in July 1998, but later that year found that he was offering his services as a private tutor, teaching GCSE and A-level maths and science.
The education authority warned local schools about Mr Hudson, who runs learning centres in the Eastbourne and Haywards Heath areas.
The circular said Mr Hudson was on List 99, the Department for Education and Skills's confidential list of teachers banned from working in state schools. It went on to describe him as someone who was "unsuitable to work with children".
But The TES has discovered that parents are still being approached. Mr Hudson has apparently been advertising in the area and, despite the warnings, some are allowing him to teach their children. East Sussex reissued its original warning in September.
"This is a strange loophole in the law," said Matt Dunkley, East Sussex deputy director of education. "Thousands of teachers in schools are having to go through the Criminal Records Bureau process before they can stand in front of a class, yet this man is able to teach children without any CRB declaration whatsoever."
Mr Dunkley said that he would like to see private tuition services regulated to prevent unsuitable tutors offering their services.
"It seems straightforward that someone who has committed this kind of offence should not be allowed to work with children, especially not on a one-to-one basis in a private home."
In February 2003 Mr Hudson's conviction becomes spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, but his name will remain on List 99 and he would have to declare his conviction if he wanted to work in schools.
STATEMENT FROM KEITH HUDSON
In February 1996 I was arrested by Customs officers who had a copy of a naturist magazine to which I had a monthly subscription. In mid-1994 I had one of these magazines inspected by Customs and Excise. It was returned without comment.
Subsequently I took out a subscription and received copies without difficulty. Customs and Excise had, apparently, changed the way in which they regarded naturist publications in which children were depicted. I was unaware of this change. The offence of which I have been convicted, though, is "concealing and harbouring items the exportation of which is prohibited". Details of the items are not given on the certificate of conviction.
I am still allowed to teach in schools. This has been confirmed by officials at the Department for Education and Skills which has assessed my teaching as valuable and valued. The chief medical adviser to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills has recommended that I continue my tutoring business.
Schools in East Sussex have been told to send letters to parents. These letters state that there are "concerns" about my suitability to tutor but do not give any grounds for these supposed concerns and cause needless anxiety to parents and pupils.
No officers from East Sussex LEA have contacted me, or made arrangements to come and see the way in which my business operates.
The parents (and students) I work with feel that what happened in the mid-90s is now past and what matters is how I am working with their children now.
Any parent who asks about my background has their questions answered fully. Other parents whom I quote as references are those who are fully aware of the situation.
I obtain many new students through reputation and recommendation, as well as being asked to take on younger siblings.
There is no doubt about the total safety and well-being of every pupil - that my full-time business has grown steadily over nearly seven years, without any suggestion of improper or unprofessional conduct, is ample testament.
A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said:
"Mr Hudson is included on List 99 and cannot teach in schools and colleges that admit male pupils under 19 years of age. His restriction does not say that he is unsuitable to work with children outside a school setting.
Private tutorial agencies can obtain Criminal Records Bureau clearance for private tutors but parents, as private individuals, are not able to verify enhanced disclosures issued by the CRB.
We strongly advise parents to check the background of home tutors through references and checking General Teaching Council registration. We also ask parents to ensure that they make appropriate safe arrangements by having an adult present, for example.
The Chief Medical Officer knew that the police were aware that Mr Hudson was continuing with his private tutoring and were monitoring him. Under these circumstances she suggested that this could reasonably be supported providing police monitoring and inspectorialvisits continued to be satisfied."