Professional conduct panel reviewing if former St Albans teacher should be barred

PUBLISHED: 15:03 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:03 19 March 2019

St Columba's College.

St Columba's College.

picture supplied

A professional conduct panel is currently investigating if a former St Albans school teacher should be barred from the profession.

Stephen Jones taught at St Columba’s College in St Albans from 2003 to 2015, when he was dismissed without paid notice for having a platonic but “inappropriate” relationship with pupil A.

He befriended the family of A from 2012, but the companionship deepened from 2014 when A was 15.

Dr Jones visited A’s home, gave him lifts, socialised with his family, and travelled with them to holiday destinations such as Ireland and Italy.

During a 2014 summer holiday to Canada, Dr Jones flew back with A five days after his parents had returned home.

He also arranged for A to have extra tuition, paid for A to meet a counsellor, and on at least one occasion accompanied A to the cinema alone. Dr Jones also failed to report red marks on A’s neck, which A said were inflicted by his mother.

Despite a recommendation from A’s counsellor in April 2015, Dr Jones did not refer A in writing to child protection services until May 20.

The teacher said after he had informed A’s mother he might involve social services or the police, she visited his house and used threatening language.

Two days later, on May 18, A’s mother phoned headteacher David Buxton to say Dr Jones had an “unnatural and unhealthy” influence upon the teenager.

A multidisciplinary took place on May 21 and Dr Jones was suspended the next day.

His claim for wrongful dismissal denied by an employment tribunal in 2016, which found his actions were “well-intentioned but seriously at fault”. There was no suggestion of sexual abuse or misconduct.

The Teaching Regulation Agency is now investigating whether Dr Jones should be prohibited from teaching. A panel is scheduled to finish by March 22.

A college spokesperson said: “We have been supporting the panel fully in their preparation for this case, and it would be inappropriate to comment further while the proceedings are ongoing.

“This was an isolated case and the individual concerned was dismissed as soon as it became clear that he did not adhere to the high standards we expect and demand.”

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