For­mer head banned for touch­ing fe­male pupils

Panel finds 53-year-old ‘failed to main­tain ap­pro­pri­ate pro­fes­sional bound­aries’

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Alexan­der Ballinger alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­

A FOR­MER prin­ci­pal and head of safe­guard­ing at Hare­field Academy has been banned from teach­ing in­def­i­nitely af­ter he was found to have in­ap­pro­pri­ately touched five fe­male stu­dents.

Mark An­drew Poul­ter stepped down from his role as prin­ci­pal on Au­gust 21 last year af­ter the al­le­ga­tions sur­faced.

The in­ci­dents oc­curred be­tween Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber 2014 when the 53-year-old squeezed pupils’ waists on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, touched the bot­tom of one pupil’s back, put his hands on an­other’s hips, and also grabbed a pupil’s nose and kicked her feet un­der a ta­ble.

The re­port said the ac­tions made the pupils feel un­com­fort­able.

A re­port pub­lished on­line by the Na­tional Col­lege for Teach­ing and Lead­er­ship’s pro­fes­sional con­duct panel af­ter a meet­ing last month, stated Mr Poul­ter had ad­mit­ted many of the al­le­ga­tions, while the panel was sat­is­fied others were proven.

The re­port does not re­fer to any crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings hav­ing taken place fol­low­ing the al­le­ga­tions.

It states: “The panel noted that it was clear from the ad­mis­sions of Mr Poul­ter and the state­ments of others that Mr Poul­ter had de­lib­er­ately by­passed the school’s poli­cies and pro­ce­dures and tried to dic­tate the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to en­sure that he re­ceived no more than a ‘spank­ing’ and a let­ter on his record stat­ing that he had shown ill judge­ment.”

The re­port con­cludes: “The panel finds that Mr Poul­ter’s ac­tions, par­tic­u­larly in his role as a prin­ci­pal, con­sti­tute con­duct that may bring the pro­fes­sion into dis­re­pute.

“The panel has taken ac­count of the uniquely in­flu­en­tial role that teach­ers can hold in pupils’ lives and that pupils must be able to view teach­ers as role mod­els in the way they be­have.”

The Hare­field school cel­e­brated its best exam re­sults ever in 2014 af­ter Mr Poul­ter took over as prin­ci­pal in 2013.

Mr Poul­ter was also the head of safe­guard­ing at the school, and was found to have ‘failed to main­tain ap­pro­pri­ate pro­fes­sional bound­aries and pro­fes­sional stan­dards’.

He also failed to ap­pro­pri­ately deal with al­le­ga­tions against him as he did not re­move him­self from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and at­tempted to re­solve the mat­ter him­self.

The pro­fes­sional con­duct panel met on July 14 in Coven­try to de­ter­mine Mr Poul­ter’s fate.

Af­ter the meet­ing, the panel rec­om­mended to the Sec­re­tary of State that Mr Poul­ter be banned from teach­ing.

On be­half of the Sec­re­tary of State, Alan Meyrick from the de­part­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion said: “I am also sat­is­fied that the con­duct of Mr Poul­ter fell sig­nif­i­cantly short of the stan­dards ex­pected of the pro­fes­sion.

“Mr Mark Poul­ter is pro­hib­ited from teach­ing in­def­i­nitely and can­not teach in any school, sixth form col­lege, rel­e­vant youth ac­com­mo­da­tion or chil­dren’s home in Eng­land.”

Mr Poul­ter can ap­ply to have the or­der re­moved but not un­til July 22 2021 – five years af­ter it was is­sued, and he is not guar­an­teed to be al­lowed to teach again.

n FOR­MER SCHOOL: Mark Poul­ter was the prin­ci­pal at Hare­field Academy

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