Brighton teacher banned for two years after pupils drank and smoked in his flat

Posted On 02 Mar 2021 at 1:03 pm

A Brighton teacher has been banned from the profession for two years after he invited 15 and 16-year-old pupils into his flat to smoke and drink.

Thomas Kenwright, 32, was a teacher for seven years and spent the final three years of his career at Brighton College before a pupil reported him.

Kenwright was banned after a Teaching Regulation Agency professional conduct panel sat last month.

The panel, which sat in private and online, said: “Mr Kenwright provided a signed ‘statement of agreed facts’ and admitted unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.”

He had a pupil back to his flat late at night, the panel said, and had others back to his flat when he let them drink alcohol and smoke or vape.

Kenwright told them to keep the visits to his flat a secret and, the panel said, “his behaviour … was dishonest and lacked integrity.”

The panel said: “During the period November 2018 to November 2019, he failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with respect to one or more pupils.

“Kenwright was employed as a teacher and director of drama and deputy housemaster at Brighton College from (Tuesday) 3 January 2017.

“In his role as deputy housemaster, he had a residential role, supporting the housemaster and housemistress in the running of a boarding house.

“On (Friday) 29 November 2019, a pupil from another boarding house raised concerns regarding Mr Kenwright’s behaviour.

“It was alleged that, on more than one occasion, Mr Kenwright had permitted (pupils) to attend his residential flat.

“It was further alleged that Mr Kenwright supplied those pupils with alcohol, cigarettes and/or vapes to use in his presence.”

The panel said that two of the pupils were 16 and one was 15 years old and added that Kenwright resigned on (Monday) 2 December 2019.

The panel said: “Mr Kenwright admitted that, on more than one occasion, he met with (an unnamed 16-year-old pupil), one to one, in his residential flat, including late at night.

“Mr Kenwright further admitted that, during these occasions, (the pupil) was permitted to use, and was supplied, with cigarettes, vapes and alcohol.

“Mr Kenwright admitted that the cigarettes, vapes and alcohol were in his residential flat and were not brought in by (the pupil).

“The panel noted that the college’s Staff Code of Conduct stated that members of staff should: ‘Ensure that parents, carers and/or a senior member of staff authorises all out of school contact with pupils.

“‘Any regular out of school contact with pupils (eg, coaching at a local sports club, teaching at Sunday school, etc) should be communicated to the safeguarding team by members of staff.

“Avoid inviting pupils into your home or personal living space. In boarding houses this is acceptable if the purpose of the visit is clear and appropriate.’

“The panel was satisfied that Mr Kenwright’s conduct was in clear breach of this requirement in that the reasons for the visits to his residence were neither authorised nor appropriate.

“Mr Kenwright also admitted that, on one or more occasions, he allowed (three pupils) to attend his residential flat.

“Mr Kenwright further admitted that on these occasions he supplied (the three pupils) with alcohol, cigarettes and/or vapes to use while in his presence.

“Mr Kenwright also admitted that the alcohol, cigarettes and vapes were kept in his residence and were not brought by (the three pupils).

“The panel was satisfied that the conduct of Mr Kenwright was serious and fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession.

“Accordingly, the panel was satisfied that Mr Kenwright was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

“The panel took into account the way the teaching profession is viewed by others and considered the influence that teachers may have on pupils, parents and others in the community.

“The panel also took account of the uniquely influential role that teachers can hold in pupils’ lives and the fact that pupils must be able to view teachers as role models in the way they behave.

“Mr Kenwright’s conduct in question here took place frequently late at night in his private accommodation supplied by the school and on the school grounds.

“The findings of misconduct were serious and the conduct displayed would be likely to have a negative impact on the individual’s status as a teacher, potentially damaging the public perception.

“The panel therefore found that Mr Kenwright’s actions constituted conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

Gavin Williamson

“Mr Kenwright’s actions were deliberate, repetitive and dishonest. Mr Kenwright did have a previously good history. The panel saw no evidence that Mr Kenwright was previously subject to disciplinary proceedings or warnings.

“The panel has taken into account the fact that there was no evidence of any serious or lasting consequences for any pupil.”

An email from Kenwright, dated Saturday 7 December 2020, said: “I have absolutely loved my seven years teaching and am sad to be leaving the profession.

“I did continually ask for training to support me in my pastoral work.

“I wish my colleagues and students the best of luck for their futures.”

The panel recommended a two-year ban to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson – advice accepted on his behalf by an official, Sarah Buxcey.

She said: “Thomas Kenwright is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England.

“He may apply for the prohibition order to be set aside, but not until (Friday) 24 February 2023, two years from the date of this order at the earliest.

“This is not an automatic right to have the prohibition order removed. If he does apply, a panel will meet to consider whether the prohibition order should be set aside.

“Without a successful application, Mr Kenwright remains prohibited from teaching indefinitely.”

  1. Chaz. Reply

    They wanted a teacher, not a groomer.

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