A teacher has been handed a lifelong ban from his profession, after it was found his behaviour “amounted to misconduct of a serious nature which fell significantly short of the standards expected”.
Denis McCarthy taught at Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley (RSSKL) for 34 years.
But following a three-week professional misconduct hearing it was found that he “failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries and/or professional standards”.
And the Secretary of State for Education has decided Mr McCarthy must be banned from teaching indefinitely. Mr McCarthy cannot apply for the order to be removed until March 2022.
The minister said: “I have taken into account the panel’s comments on insight and remorse, which the panel sets out as follows, ‘Whilst the panel felt that this indicated the beginnings of some insight by Mr McCarthy as to his actions, the panel was disappointed that he did not express any explicit remorse to the pupils or their families.’
“In my judgement, the lack of complete and unambiguous insight means that there is some risk of the repetition of this behaviour and this puts at risk the future wellbeing of pupils. I have therefore given this element considerable weight in reaching my decision.”
The hearing saw a number of students, parents and former staff members appear to give testimony under oath.
One student told how Mr McCarthy would have students sit on his lap and cuddle them, and how had put his hair into bunches at school. Another parent also gave testimony about his hugging children as they sat on his lap.
Mr McCarthy admitted that students would sit on his lap, saying that he neither discouraged nor encouraged it. He said he did not remember students putting his hair into bunches, but said that if he did it would have helped the children to “come out of themselves”.
One parent gave evidence of Mr McCarthy’s conduct towards a student at a school camping trip, which included stroking her cheeky and putting her hair behind her ear, putting his arm around her, and allowing her to rest her head in his lap.
Mr McCarthy denied that there was anything inappropriate about this, but the panel found that it “went further than would have been appropriate”.
There was also evidence from two staff members about an incident which occurred after Mr McCarthy had already been suspended. He was back at work when a student had ink on their face in the playground, and he wiped it off himself.
The panel said: “There was no need for this contact, as the pupil could have been sent to the bathroom to wipe away the stain herself.
“The unnecessary contact, especially for a Who is Denis McCarthy and what was his role at RSSKL? teacher who had just returned from suspension, was inappropriate and crossed boundaries.”
Mr McCarthy told the hearing that one of the witnesses, known only as Mother A, was conducting a vendetta against him.
The panel stated that, on balance, they preferred Mother A’s evidence to Mr McCarthy’s.