Teacher struck off after sex with former pupil

PUBLISHED: 10:16 12 February 2020

Saffron Walden County High School. Picture: Saffron Photo.

Saffron Walden County High School. Picture: Saffron Photo.

SaffronPhoto 2016

A former teacher at Saffron Walden County High School has been banned from teaching for life after having sex with an ex-pupil.

Paul Stuart-Turner, 56, was accused of engaging in sexual activity and/or sexual intercourse with 'Student A' on one or more occasion, shortly after she left the school.

The teacher admitted to having sex with the student while on a school trip in July 2005, which a professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulations Agency labelled as a "serious sexual misconduct".

Other allegations included that while he was a teacher at the school, he kissed the student in question "on the lips" and "rubbed himself against her" on more than one occasion - but Stuart-Turner denied these allegations.

These allegations were not proved due to inconsistencies in the student's statements, and the teacher consistently denied physical contact with the student prior to July 2005.

The conduct panel's outcome read: "In her written witness statement, Student A stated that on one occasion, she stayed behind after school to update the display board in the classroom, when Stuart-Turner came into the classroom and pushed against her 'with a small amount of pressure' and kissed her on the lips for about ten seconds.

"However, the panel noted in an interview with the police, Student A stated that when putting up a display board in his classroom, he came into the room and walked towards her before a cleaner walked into the room. In this recollection of events, Student A makes no reference to a kiss."

Stuart-Turner, who was a teacher at the school between 1996-2018, entered a three-year-long relationship with the student after she left the school in 2005. In 2016, Student A claimed that she had been abused by the teacher, which triggered a police investigation, but no further action was taken. Subsequently, the school held a disciplinary hearing in which Stuart-Turner was dismissed.

Part of this year's conduct panel meeting was held in private. The official document explains that this was "decided following a request from the teacher's representative, due to 'reasonable given concerns about confidential matters relating to health being placed in the public domain'. These personal issues were related to the teacher's health".

Six witnesses gave oral evidence to the panel, including a former and current teacher at the school, both called by Stuart-Turner. The school's former headteacher and two former colleagues at the school both praised Stuart-Turner for his "professional excellence'.

Caroline Derbyshire, executive headteacher of Saffron Walden County High School, said afterwards: "This hearing considered a historic incident which occurred 15 years ago. When the incident came to light, all safeguarding policies and procedures were followed, the member of staff involved was dismissed and the matter referred to the relevant authorities. The last time he taught in the school was July 2017.

"We are satisfied that the matter has now been concluded and the appropriate action has been taken by the Teaching Regulation Agency.

"At Saffron Walden County High School, the safety and welfare of all students is our utmost priority and we follow all appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures.

"Together, as a school, we are now moving forward, focusing on our stated core aim to provide all our pupils with education of exceptional quality."

Although Stuart-Turner received a lifetime prohibition from teaching, he is able to apply for the order to be set aside at the earliest date of January 17 2025.

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