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Tomsett returning to headship after escaping ban over affair with ex-pupil

John Tomsett describes hearing which found he may have brought teaching into disrepute as 'challenging'

John Tomsett is set to return to work

John Tomsett describes hearing which found he may have brought teaching into disrepute as 'challenging'

A prominent head teacher who escaped being banned from teaching after having an affair with a former pupil is to return to lead his school next year, parents have been told.

John Tomsett was ruled to have carried out "conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute" after admitting he had a sexual relationship with an ex-pupil, at a sixth form college he taught at, in the summer she received her A-level results, more than 20 years ago.

He is now set to make a phased return as head teacher at Huntington School in York after he was spared a ban from the profession. 

Parents have been told the news today in a letter from school governors.

Mr Tomsett, a founding member of the Headteachers’ Roundtable group, said he was looking forward to returning after the “most challenging time imaginable.”

He escaped a teaching ban for "conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute" following a Teaching Regulation Agency panel hearing just over a month ago.

During the hearing the panel was told Mr Tomsett was in his first job, as an English teacher at Eastbourne Sixth Form College in the early 1990s, when he had the affair with the pupil, aged 18.

The panel heard evidence from both, including about how they kissed in his classroom on his last day in the job, and that he would later pick her up in his car and take her to local beauty spots where on one occasion they took part in sexual activity.

Mr Tomsett, whose current school was judged as "outstanding" by Ofsted last year, said it was "not uncommon" for teachers and sixth-formers to have relationships in the early 90s, but has said he now realises that such a relationship would be "imbalanced" and "wrong."

The panel did not find it proven that he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, or that he brought the profession into disrepute by failing to maintain professional boundaries by engaging in an inappropriate relationship with the pupil while he was her A-level English teacher.

However, they said some of his actions were "unwise, ill-judged and unprofessional".  

It was announced last month that Mr Tomsett would be spared a teaching ban.

Today he said: “I am delighted to be returning to the job I love at the school I love.

“I would like to thank the governing body for showing such faith in me and pay tribute to my deputies Matt Smith and Gail Naish who led our phenomenal staff during my absence.

“I would also like to thank all those people who have shown me and my family such incredible support during the most challenging time imaginable.

“I would especially like to thank my wife and my two sons who have been truly remarkable.

“I look forward to helping educate the young people at our school and  ensuring that they have the best futures possible.”

A letter sent to parents today from the school says that “following a series of meetings, the governing body has agreed that Mr Tomsett will make a phased return to work at Huntington School”.

A York City Council spokesman said: “The governors of Huntington School have met and agreed next steps. John Tomsett will start a phased return to the role of head teacher at Huntington School on 7 January 2018.

“Until he returns in a full time capacity, Matt Smith will continue as acting head teacher.  We will continue to support the governors and Mr Tomsett as he settles into his return and look forward to welcoming him back to the school community.”

The TRA panel had also heard publication of a book about good teaching practice by Mr Tomsett was “a trigger” which led to the police being informed about his relationship with a former pupil more than 20 years earlier, a teacher conduct panel has heard.

Mr Tomsett’s book, called This Much I Know About Love Over Fear, published in 2015, has a picture of him hugging a pupil on the front cover.

The former pupil, who is now in her 40s, told a counsellor about the affair after seeing the book.


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