March 2015

Former teacher banned indefinitely from teaching after abusing young boys

A former teacher at Bedford Modern School has been banned from ever returning to the country’s classrooms after findings that he was guilty of sexually motivated incidents in respect of young boys at the school 40 years ago.

A disciplinary panel has found that Paul Birch, now 65, called an 11-year-old boy into the master’s dressing room and told him to take his trousers and pants off and made sexually motivated suggestions to the child.

The panel also found him guilty of similar allegations against a second boy of the same age on a different occasion.

One of the pupils involved in the incidents at the school, told the hearing in written evidence how he considered Birch would have touched him if he had not made an excuse of feeling ill and run home immediately.

Birch, who was not present or represented at the National Council of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) hearing in Coventry denied in written submissions that he would ever have touched or sexually asssaulted the boy. He denied he got any sexual gratification from what he had done and realised his actions had been “stupid.”

However, in his evidence one of the boys had claimed that Birch got a “cheap thrill” from watching boys run naked through the showers at school.

Birch was employed as a mathematics and sport teacher at the school from 1971 until 2010 when he resigned as head of mathematics.

However, he was re-employed as a part time examination officer and also became a volunteer table tennis coach until he was suspended following a report to police in 2013 that a pupil at the school had overheard a relative speaking about sexual abuse by Birch.

The incidents at the centre of the disciplinary hearing were said to have taken place “in or around 1975” and the hearing was told that he was spoken to by the headmaster of the school in 1975 in respect of his conduct.

The panel’s findings say that Birch’s actions were “sexually motivated” and that he was guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct.”

They add that he “shows no current insight in relation to the severity of his actions, because he considered his conduct would only be of concern if it became public knowledge.”

They say that from the information considered by the panel it does not appear that he had any concern for the effect his conduct had on the two boys.

Imposing a life-time ban on behalf of Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, NCTL deputy director Alan Meyrick said it was a serious case involving “an abuse of the trust that pupils should expect from their teachers.”

He said he supported the NCTL panel’s recommendation that Birch should be banned from the country’s classrooms for life.

“This means that Mr Paul Birch is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England. Furthermore, in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against him, I have decided that Mr Paul Birch shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach,” he said.