Steiner teacher banned for ‘grandfatherly’ behaviour

Rudolf Steiner School in Kings Langley.Image copyright Geograph/Nigel Cox
Image caption Mr McCarthy said his physical contact with pupils was “wholesome” and “grandfatherly”

A former teacher who claimed he had acted in a “grandfatherly” way by hugging pupils and letting them sit on his lap has been banned from teaching.

Denis McCarthy, 66, who taught at a Rudolf Steiner School in Hertfordshire for 33 years, was found to have acted “inappropriately” with six children.

However, a professional conduct panel was not persuaded that his actions were sexually motivated either.

Mr McCarthy said physical contact was “wholesome” and for pupils’ benefit.

He was employed at the independent Rudolf Steiner School in Kings Langley from 1983 until January 2017, when he was dismissed over parents’ concerns about the level of physical contact he had with their children.

A professional conduct panel looked at allegations relating to six pupils between 2009-2016, in the classroom, at a school summer fair and on a camping trip.

‘Inadequate safeguarding’

Those found to be proven included hugging, allowing them to sit on his knee and, in one case, “drawing letters” on a girl’s back using his finger.

A Teaching Regulation Agency report said: “Mr McCarthy stated that the physical contact that he had was ‘wholesome’ and for the benefit of the pupils as he acted in a grandfatherly manner.

“This particular contact was, however, reduced as the pupils progressed towards puberty.”

The panel found Mr McCarthy’s behaviour had been “inappropriate” and his conduct amounted to serious misconduct but the evidence was “not sufficient” to persuade them there was any sexual motivation.

Mr McCarthy was banned from teaching for a minimum of three years.

The school closed last summer after a number of Ofsted inspection reports said it was failing in its safeguarding requirements, though its kindergarten has reopened.

A statement on its website said: “Several children and families were let down by the school, due to an inadequate culture around safeguarding.

“All these issues are being comprehensively and conclusively rectified.”

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