March 2016

Teacher at leading private school banned from the classroom 

A married teacher who groped a 16-year-old schoolgirl at an elite private school has been banned from the classroom indefinitely.

John Mitchell, 41, put his hand on the pupil’s bottom and told her she was sending his blood pressure soaring when she bent over during a lesson at the £32,000-a-year Repton School in Derby.

The father-of-four, who was head of physics, also sent her inappropriate messages on Facebook and put his hand on her leg while driving her home after a school event. 

He was cautioned by police on February 16 for an abuse of a position of trust in engaging in sexual activity with the pupil.

A National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) disciplinary panel in Coventry has now banned him from teaching for a minimum of two years, after finding him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

Mitchell, who taught at the school from 2008, resigned in February last year after the allegations came to light.

The panel heard that the teacher was responsible with other staff for organising a social event at the school on the evening of December 6, 2014.

In their findings they said: ‘It is alleged that after the event had ended, and in the course of cleaning up, Mr Mitchell touched Pupil A inappropriately on two separate occasions and that such contact was of a sexual nature.’

Mitchell admitted that he had put his hand on the girl’s bottom for ‘up to five seconds’ and that it was ‘inappropriate’ and ‘a sexual act’. 

The panel heard that when Mitchell drove the girl home, he put his hand on her leg and moved it up towards the hem of her dress, before pulling it away.

Pupil A stated that Mitchell said: ‘Do you find this weird?’ to which she replied: ‘Yes, because you are married and have four children.’

The physics teacher told the panel the pupil had been acting in a flirtatious manner in the car. 

Mitchell also admitted making the inappropriate comment to the girl when she was bending over to pick up something from the floor earlier on in the day. 

He told the committee he had said: ‘Bloody hell. Careful. You’ll give me a coronary.’

Imposing an indefinite ban on behalf of Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, the head of teacher misconduct at the NCTL, Jayne Millions, said she considered an indefinite ban both ‘proportionate and appropriate’.

But she said that Mitchell had illustrated genuine remorse and the consequences of his actions had been ‘far-reaching and profound’.

She left the way open for Mitchell to seek to have the ban lifted after two years.

Ms Millions said: ‘I have considered the matter of a review period. Whilst any allegation involving sexual misconduct is serious, this was not a case where a physical sexual relationship had taken place.

‘I agree with the panel that the conduct on the part of Mr Mitchell amounted to a gross error of judgment on one day.

‘The panel considered that a period of two years was sufficient, and that it may also be sufficient for Mr Mitchell to demonstrate that, over such a period, he had developed strategies which would ensure that, when working under stress, there would be no repetition of such behaviour.’

However, she stressed that the ban would not be lifted automatically and the teacher would have to prove to another panel that he was fit to return to teaching before it was lifted.