‘Caring and dedicated’ York head John Tomsett cleared to carry on teaching

Huntington School head teacher John Tomsett. Photograph: YouTube
12 Nov 2018 @ 5.13 pm
| Education

John Tomsett can continue teaching, education officials have ruled.

The Huntington School headteacher, who faced a week-long misconduct panel last month, will not be barred from the profession.

Now it is up to the Huntington School’s governors to decide if he can return to his post. Mr Tomsett has taken a leave of absence from the school.

In his ruling on Monday (November 12) Alan Meyrick, on behalf of the Education Secretary, said:

  • A prohibition order would prevent Mr Tomsett from teaching and would also clearly deprive the public of his contribution to the profession for the period that it is in force.

    I have given considerable weight in my consideration of sanction, to the contribution that Mr Tomsett has made to the profession…

    For all of these reasons, and the fact that the panel say that “the nature and severity of the behaviour is at the less serious end of the possible spectrum”, I have concluded that not imposing a prohibition order is proportionate and in the public interest in this case.

Affair with student

Headteacher of Huntington School John Tomsett
The investigation centred on Mr Tomsett’s relationship with a student in 1992 during his time teaching at Eastbourne Sixth Form College.

He was cleared of one allegation, that he engaged “in an inappropriate relationship” with the pupil.

But Mr Tomsett had admitted to another of the allegations, that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with the pupil during the summer in which she received her A level results.

And the panel found that Mr Tomsett’s actions constituted conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

In their report, the panel said:

  • The panel was very clear in its finding that it is not professionally acceptable for a teacher to enter into a romantic or sexual relationship with their former pupil shortly after that pupil has left school or college.

    The conduct displayed would likely have a negative impact on the individual’s status as a teacher, potentially damaging the public perception.

    Having found the facts of allegation 2 proved, the panel found that Mr Tomsett’s actions constituted conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

Positive contribution

John Tomsett. Photograph: YouTube
But they were presented with a “150 page bundle of support” for Mr Tomsett’s good character.

“The testimonials demonstrate that Mr Tomsett is seen as a caring, empathetic, dedicated and driven teacher and leader and demonstrate his value to the educational establishment,” they wrote.

And they heard how he had developed a ten-year vision for Huntington School in 2007/8 – and in 2017 Ofsted found the school was outstanding in every category for the first time in its history.

Evidence had shown his contribution “to city-wide initiatives, to mental health initiatives, to securing finance for the local authority to build a media centre, to being a member of the Department of Education expert group on developing the initial teaching training programme for behaviour in schools”.

And that demonstrated his positive commitment and contribution to the wider educational sector.

It was in the public interest that Mr Tomsett was able to continue to teach. Given the “less serious” nature of the misbehaviour and the mitigating circumstances, the panel recommneded that he should not be prohibited from teaching.

The Department for Education official agreed.

City of York Council said Huntington School governors “will now meet to consider next steps”, adding: “It would be inappropriate for us to pre-empt these discussions or comment further.”

Mr Tomsett started teaching 29 years ago and has been a head teacher for 14 years.