Panel lets 11 teachers who showed improper behaviour towards pupils stay in profession
Geoffrey Bettley at his home in Pudsey
There was widespread outrage when it emerged this week that RE teacher Geoffrey Bettley, 36, had been allowed to remain in the profession despite receiving a police caution and being ordered to sign the sex offenders register after nearly 200 indecent pictures were found on his computer.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, pledged to change the rules so that teachers cautioned or prosecuted for offences involving images of child abuse will in future be barred.
The Government has also announced a review of the guidelines on how the professional conduct panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership deals with inappropriate behaviour
In the past year, the panel has cleared 11 male teachers to return to work even though they were found to have behaved improperly towards pupils as young as 13
They include Paul Gozzard, 32, a former PE teacher at Painsley Catholic College in Stoke on Trent, who arranged to meet a teenage pupil in a country lane and kissed her. He also called and texted her regularly using his personal mobile phone.
The panel found that there “appeared to be no sexual contact between the two” and noted that the teacher had expressed regret at what happened, meaning there was no “appreciable” risk of him doing it again.
Another teacher who escaped a ban was David Jamieson, 34, who was working at Chorlton High School in Manchester when he took a 16-year-old former pupil to a music concert, allowed her to drink alcohol and failed to return her home until 3am.
The report on his disciplinary hearing concluded: “The panel have decided that the interests of Mr Jamieson outweigh the public interests.”
Charles Carter, 65, a former maths teacher at The Archbishop’s School in Canterbury, was found to have acted inappropriately towards a 13-year-old pupil by buying her gifts, giving her money, removing her from school premises to visit a café, taking her for a walk during the summer holidays and swapping Facebook messages with her.
The panel said his behaviour could have given the impression that he was “grooming” the girl, but accepted that was not his intention and found there was no sexual impropriety.
He was not barred from teaching because of his age, ill health and the “straightforward” explanations that he gave to police and the Teaching Agency.
Others who escaped being struck off included a headmaster who asked a girl who thought she might be pregnant “inappropriate” personal questions, a teacher who had pictures of female pupils from social networking sites on his school laptop, a head of PE who kissed a sixth former, and a boarding school master who undressed in front of a teenage girl.
In all these cases a senior official at the Department for Education, acting on Mr Gove’s behalf, accepted the panel’s recommendations and agreed that the teachers could stay in the profession.
Geoffrey Bettley, (pic above) a former teacher at St Mary’s Catholic High School in Menston, West Yorks, said today that he had not sought the panel’s decision in his case and “never had any intention of returning to teaching”.
A second teacher who was cautioned for possessing indecent images of children also escaped being barred last month.
Tony Smith, 27, a former supply teacher at Beck Row Primary School in Bury St Edmunds, downloaded 704 Japanese Manga cartoon-style images of children aged between 2 and 11 being sexually abused.
He said he knew he would never work in a school again, and the panel ruled that the case against him did not show he was not safe to be around children.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “When these cases came to light we immediately announced that the guidance used by the independent panel would be revised so that anyone cautioned or prosecuted for offences relating to images of child abuse is prohibited from teaching.
“It is paramount that children are protected when they’re at school and we have already improved the system – more teachers are being banned for life due to misconduct than ever before.”