05:37PM, Thursday 23 June 2022
A sports teacher who was spotted hugging female pupils ‘one after the other’ in a Langley school playground has been banned from the profession.
Andrew Watson will never be able to teach at a school, sixth form college or children’s home again after the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) found he had shown a ‘concerning pattern of behaviour’ during his time at the Marish Academy Trust.
The 29-year-old joined the trust, which runs Marish Primary and Willow Primary, in February 2019 as an unqualified teacher and sports coach.
But one month into his tenure the trust had to call a management meeting due to concerns over his ‘overfamiliarity’ with female pupils.
Watson was seen allowing a young girl to put bobbles in his hair in June later that year.
A witness told the TRA’s professional conduct panel that Watson appeared to be leaning forward to allow the pupil to touch his hair.
The sports coach was also spotted in the playground in October 2019 surrounded by a number of Year 6 girls.
The panel heard that Watson hugged the pupils ‘one after the other’ and seemed to be encouraging the behaviour by holding his arms out for a hug.
Watson told a disciplinary investigation, launched by the trust in November 2019, that he would only ‘high five’ pupils but he described the pupils as ‘huggers’ who would take ‘flying leaps at you’.
A further witness told the panel that they walked into the PE office at break time and discovered the sports coach surrounded by female girls while the door was closed.
Watson was leaning back with his legs on the table while a pupil could be seen holding his phone, the witness said.
The trust launched a formal investigation in November and Watson resigned from his position the following month.
The TRA’s professional conduct panel started a two-day hearing into Watson’s conduct on May 24 this year.
A report, published on Monday, said: “The panel was of the view that Mr Watson had demonstrated a concerning pattern of behaviour from the outset of his employment with the trust, and despite advice, guidance and training from the trust, the pattern of behaviour persisted and to some extent appeared to escalate.”
It added: “Mr Watson’s conduct was repeated and consistent. It persisted and escalated almost from the outset of his employment over a period of at least 7 months, with various unacceptable elements occurring during that time.
“The panel considered that Mr Watson’s conduct was incompatible with being a teacher and if he were to return to the teaching profession, there was a risk of repetition.”
“The panel finds that the conduct of Mr Watson fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession.”