Cheadle teacher avoids ban for kissing student
A TEACHER who kissed a female pupil and shared text messages and phone calls with her has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
But Paul Gozzard has escaped a teaching ban after a disciplinary panel heard there was no sexual relationship between them.
The committee also ruled the 32-year-old PE teacher was unlikely to repeat the 'serious error'.
Mr Gozzard, who has a young family, was working at Painsley Catholic College, in Cheadle, when he met the girl, referred to as 'Student A'.
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She began to text him on his personal mobile and it soon spiralled into an inappropriate relationship, the Teaching Agency professional conduct panel was told.
Although she initiated the contact, Mr Gozzard admitted calling her and being in touch on 'numerous occasions' between July and November 2010.
It culminated in the pair arranging a secret meeting along a country lane. They spoke and then shared a 'brief kiss'.
Mr Gozzard, who was going through significant pressures at the time, then cut off all ties with Student A, it was claimed. But matters came to the attention of Painsley's principal, Stephen Bell, months later and Mr Gozzard was suspended. He resigned following an investigation.
The case was then referred to the Teaching Agency, which announced its findings yesterday.
The panel said Mr Gozzard's behaviour was 'clearly unacceptable' and a 'serious breach of his professional duties'.
It added: "Having failed to follow the appropriate procedures, Mr Gozzard cannot excuse himself from the consequences of that, however much matters may have been initiated by Student A.
"He was in a position of trust and his contact with Student A was highly inappropriate."
The hearing concluded there was no evidence of sexual 'incitement'. Mr Gozzard, who had shown 'insight and regret', had been a well-respected and committed teacher.
Education Secretary Michael Gove, who is responsible for making the final decision on whether to ban a teacher, described Mr Gozzard's behaviour as a breach of trust.
But in a statement, he said: "A prohibition should always be a proportionate response and in the public interest. In this case, I support the recommendation of the panel that there should be no prohibition order."
The findings of unacceptable professional conduct will remain on record if Mr Gozzard applies for another teaching post.
Mr Bell told The Sentinel today: "This is a very sad case. "I'm relieved the matter has finally been settled and we can all concentrate on providing the best education possible for Painsley pupils."