PE teacher spotted in topless 'hug' with colleague

18th December 2009 at 00:00
But `moral young man' will be back in classroom without further punishment

Original paper headline: `Just hugging': PE teacher spotted by pupils in topless embrace with colleague

A teacher at a Catholic school who was spotted by pupils in a half- naked embrace with a topless female colleague has been allowed to return to the classroom after claiming they were only "hugging".

Robert Grealish, a 30-year-old PE teacher, was in a staffroom with the woman after lessons had ended when he was seen by children looking through the windows.

Mr Grealish, who taught at St Joseph's College in Beulah Hill, south London, admitted the pair had a "personal relationship" at the time.

A General Teaching Council for England (GTC) panel reprimanded him for unacceptable professional conduct, but decided to take no further action.

He was suspended from his post after the incident in December 2008, but was supported at the GTC panel by the school's head, Eamon Connolly, who said he was a "moral young man" and a good teacher.

Mr Grealish said he had bonded with the woman, understood to be a student teacher, over a "number of weeks" because they had common interests.

But he said that "any time spent together was strictly outside of school time or away from school premises".

They had both worked during the last period of the day in the staffroom, which was described as private. Mr Grealish started changing to go home, thinking nobody could see them.

"On this one occasion as I was changing, myself and Miss A began to hug each other and at one point we both had the outer garments from our top halves removed," he told the GTC.

"After a brief time I heard a noise outside of the frosted window to the staff changing roomoffice that we were in. We replaced our clothes and I left the room."

Mr Connolly appeared as a character witness for Mr Grealish.

"While the incident represents an error of judgement on his part, in my knowledge of him it is most out of character. He deeply regrets the incident because he knows he let the school, his colleagues and the community down," he told the panel.

The GTC said Mr Grealish had placed the school's reputation at risk.

"We are satisfied that this was a single isolated incident of very poor judgement and we accept on the evidence presented to us that it is unlikely to be repeated.

"We have decided that he has shown real remorse and once these matters were properly discussed at the school he was entirely open and honest with the school and in his subsequent teaching at other schools and with the committee," the panel said.

"He has suffered distress over this incident and shown an insight to the distress caused to others.

"We accept the evidence before us of Mr Connolly that Mr Grealish is a `moral young man'.

"Mr Connolly told us, and we accept that Mr Grealish is an asset to the teaching profession. Mr Grealish has much to offer to the profession in the future."

The reprimand will stay on Mr Grealish's record for two years.

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