A drama teacher who “engaged in sexual activity” with a former pupil on school premises has been banned from teaching for life to protect pupils.
Matthew Stuart McGowan, 38, had taught drama at Wycombe Abbey School in High Wycombe since 2011.
He admitted writing words to the effect of “Happy Valentine’s Day from a secret admirer” in the pupil’s diary around 2013, before later sending her emails of “an inappropriate nature”.
A panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership read a “considerable number” of emails sent in the first half of 2015, and found that, while some were for educational purposes, “others were flirtatious and all were written informally”.
Its report, published today, finds that during meetings and/or rehearsals with the pupil, Mr McGowan touched her bottom.
Pupil A gave evidence to the panel saying Mr McGowan had “smacked” her bottom during a rehearsal after making a comment about how much he liked the leggings she was wearing. The report adds: “Pupil A also stated that Mr McGowan subsequently touched her bottom more frequently. Pupil A said that this included Mr McGowan grabbing her bottom or pulling her up against him so that she felt him against her bottom and that this happened quite regularly.”
Mr McGowan denied this allegation.
The pupil left the school in June 2015, and told the panel that, after this, they started to exchange naked photos and videos, before a physical relationship started.
The report says: “Pupil A stated that some of the sexual activity took place in the school, specifically in Mr McGowan's office, and that they also met up on other occasions, such as in Mr McGowan's car.”
The teacher denied this allegation and told the panel that she made false allegations about him after he rejected her approach to “engage in a romantic relationship”, which would have meant him leaving his fiancée.
However, the panel said it did not find his account convincing.
The pupil’s mother made a complaint in July 2016, prompting an investigation by the school and police, and Mr McGowan resigned in September that year.
The panel recommended that Mr McGowan be banned from teaching with immediate effect, and not be allowed a review period.
Dawn Dandy, who made the decision on behalf of the education secretary, agreed, and wrote: “In my judgement, the lack of insight means that there is some risk of the repetition of this behaviour, and this risks future pupils being subject to similar behaviour.”
She ruled that Mr McGowan should not be allowed to apply for his eligibility to teach to be restored, citing “serious sexual misconduct, the lack of either insight or remorse, and the fact that the conduct continued after it had been brought to Mr McGowan’s attention”.