Sunderland teacher banned after groping pupils

Thornhill School. Picture c/o Google Images.
Thornhill School. Picture c/o Google Images.

A Sunderland teacher has been given a lifetime ban from classrooms after groping and making sexually inappropriate comments to pupils.

Former Thornhill School teacher Paul Coxon, 53, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct at a teachers disciplinary panel in relation to a number of incidents which spanned more than a decade.

Five ex pupils gave evidence at the hearing of the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) in Coventry, where a professional conduct panel heard how Mr Coxon groped the bottom, breast and private parts of one teenage girl - referred to as Pupil A - on more than one occasion and also said to her: “I want to be the first to have sex with you.”

The panel heard he also asked her whether she had ever performed a sex act.

The hearing was also told that in relation to another girl - known as Pupil B - he asked whether she was a virgin, gestured to his private parts, hugged her and put his hand on her bottom on more than one occasion.

He also said to her: “The things I want to do to you, you wouldn’t believe.”

Other incidents included lifting another female pupil off the floor and mocking a male pupil’s size.

The panel found that some of his behaviour was sexually motivated, while others were examples of unacceptable professional conduct.

While Pupils A and B were praised for their consistent evidence, Mr Coxon was found to be “unreliable and inconsistent” at the hearing.

Alan Meyrick, deputy director of the NCTL, said: “I am satisfied that Mr Coxon’s conduct fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession.

“Mr Coxon repeatedly made sexually motivated and inappropriate comments to two pupils.

“His behaviour was on several occasions offensive, and he touched pupils on intimate areas on numerous occasions. I note the panel found there was additional inappropriate contact with and comment about other pupils.”

Making his findings on behalf of the education secretary, Mr Meyrick added: “I support the recommendation that Mr Coxon should be subject to a prohibition order.

“I agree with the panel’s view that the proved facts are so serious that no other outcome would sufficiently protect pupils or the public interest.”

Mr Meyrick supported the panel’s view that there should be no review period for the order, adding: “This means that Mr Coxon is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England.

“Furthermore, in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against him, I have decided that Mr Coxon shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.”

Mr Coxon has a right of appeal to the High Court.

John Hallworth, executive head teacher, from Thornhill and Washington Schools’ Federation, said: “Before the appointment of Mr Coxon all the required checks and procedures were in place and had been completed.

“The school’s safeguarding procedures have been regularly checked by the regulating authorities and found to be exemplary. Mr Coxon has not worked at the school for a number of years.

“As the disciplinary panel has found, this behaviour was a serious breach of the professional standards that are expected to be followed by all staff who work in schools and colleges.

“The school reported all of these allegations to the appropriate authorities at the time they occurred and undertook all of the advised actions, with the most serious being subject to a full police enquiry.”