Photos shame of ex-deputy headmaster

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A former deputy head teacher at a local primary school has been banned from teaching for life after being found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct which included taking photographs of teenage boys in their swimwear.

David Dawson, 66, was second-in-charge at the Bolton-le-Sands Church of England school between 1992 and 1996.

He caused controversy after smacking a young pupil on the bottom in June 1993. He kept his job but has now been formally told his teaching career is over.

Although officially retired, a hearing was told there was evidence he was considering a move back into teaching but that would now be blocked.

A Teaching Agency disciplinary panel – part of the Department for Education – found him guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct” and banned him indefinitely.

The recent decision was taken after a number of incidents over the course of his 40-year career but in particular those which related to him coming to the attention of police three times in 1996, 1998 and 2004 having taken or been in possession of photographic images of teenage boys in swimwear.

The first such allegation originally came to light while he was deputy head of the Church of England school after he submitted camera film for developing and film processing staff were concerned about the images so passed to police in West Yorkshire.

None of the subjects of the photographs are understood to have involved children at the Bolton-le-Sands school, and he has had no involvement with the school since leaving it in 1996 when police became involved. But his smacking of a pupil there – as punishment for throwing a chair on the ground – and then omitting the incident from his application form in order to get his next job at a school in Hertfordshire, was taken into consideration.

Dawson had claimed the reason his time at the school in Bolton-le-Sands had been omitted from his CV was because he did not get on well with the then head – a Mr Kenneth Entwistle, who is now retired.

But the Panel said the reason for the ommission was due to the circumstances of his departure from the school when he was informed by Mr Entwistle about the police investigation relating to the photographs, which were ultimately deemed not so indecent as to “warrant prosecution”.

Cabinet minister and Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, issued what is called a 

Prohibition Order which effectively bans Dawson from teaching permanently. Dawson was not present at the hearing and had previously claimed he was a photographer with the allegation in 1998 occurring while he was a photographer for a swimming club.

It found that on three occasions, he came to the attention of the police for having taken or been in possession of photographic images of teenage boys in swimwear which the panel regarded as “conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute”.

The panel had been told that images found by the police included images taken on beaches unrelated to school or team activities, and photographs taken at swimming galas without permission.

The panel found that police intelligence from 1996 records showed that the subjects photographed had been unaware and that many of the images Dawson took had focused on the genital area.

However, no criminal charges were ever brought. In August 2008, Dawson was arrested at a beach in Bournemouth taking photographs of children without consent.

Dawson maintained that he had done nothing wrong, but the findings of the panel added: “Knowing that the police were concerned by his conduct, the panel is troubled that it does not appear that Mr Dawson reflected on how his behaviour, given his role as a teacher, would be perceived.

“When the police involvement brought these matters to his attention it appears there was no change in his conduct. Even if his possession of these photographs was only the outcome of an innocent hobby, it should have been evident to him that it could be perceived in another way and that his behaviour could be construed as inappropriate.”

The panel also found that, on March 3 2008, he was convicted of obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception between September 2 2002 and September 1 2004, and attempting to obtain a pecuniary advantage on an unknown date.

He appeared at Leeds Crown Court on May 15 2008 and was sentenced to four months prison – suspended for 12 months.

He was also ordered to pay £872 in costs.

These offences, say the findings of the panel, related to him gaining employment at Egerton Rothesay School in Berkhamsted, Herts, by lying on his application by not revealing his prior employment at the school in Bolton-le-Sands.

The findings add that Dawson also hit a pupil at Egerton Rothesay School in May 2004.

However, they say that this did not constitute unacceptable conduct, as he was trying to stop the pupil’s behaviour during an exam.

The panel concluded that there is clear evidence that Dawson has a “deep seated attitudinal problem” and that, though he is 66 and described himself as retired, “there was evidence he might seek to return to teaching in the future.”

It added that there was a “significant risk of repetition of the behaviour, were Mr Dawson allowed to return to teaching”.

The panel’s ruling means that Dawson is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England.

The panel’s ruling means that Dawson is prohibited from teaching indefinitely. He has a right of appeal to the High Court.