Woodside High School teacher Philip Barnwell banned after sexual relationship with 15-year-old pupil

Woodside High School

Woodside High School

First published in News
Last updated
by , Reporter

A Wood Green teacher has been banned from the country’s classrooms after he started a relationship with a pupil when she was 15 years old.

Philip Barnwell, 36, began a relationship with a vulnerable pupil, known as Pupil A, when she was 15, which went on to develop into sexual relationship after she turned 16.

In a decision taken on behalf of Education Secretary Michael Gove, the ban was imposed on Barnwell following a disciplinary panel finding that he was guilty of unacceptable conduct while employed at Woodside High School, in Wood Green.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership professional conduct panel found that, between 2007 and 2008, Mr Barnwell had an inappropriate relationship with the Year 11 student.

He was suspended by the school in July 2008 pending police and school investigations into his alleged conduct, at a time when Pupil A had just completed her GCSE’s.

Panel chairman Mary Speakman said: “The relationship is said to have involved the teacher frequently spending time alone with Pupil A in school time, communications by text and MSN between them, pre-arranged meetings outside school and overnight stays.

“It is alleged the liaison with the pupil was disclosed by Mr Barnwell to a friend of Pupil A who was in the same year at school.

“It is also specifically alleged that on one night Pupil A stayed at Mr Barnwell’s home and shared a bed with him.

“On another occasion it is also said that he took her to a hotel in Brighton where they stayed for two nights during term time and that he falsely told the school that he was absent through sickness.

“Later – shortly after Pupil A had left the school in September 2008 – it is alleged that she was seen near a park together with Mr Barnwell and they ‘appeared very close’.”

Mr Barnwell had claimed there was no inappropriate relationship and that the principal witness, Pupil A’s friend, Pupil B, had “lied”.

However, the panel found that Pupil B and other witnesses were telling the truth, in contrast with Barnwell, who “decided to absent himself at an early stage in the proceedings despite strong and clear guidance from the legal advisor that the panel would be deprived of the opportunity of hearing from him in person”.

The panel also found that he took Pupil A for a two-night stay in a Brighton hotel at the end of June.

Barnwell did not deny lying to the school in claiming that he was absent from work through sickness, but claimed he had gone with his wife to the Royal York Hotel in an attempt to resolve their personal difficulties.

However, the panel concluded that on the balance of probabilities the teacher “was accompanied by Pupil A and not his wife at the Brighton Hotel”.

It also accepted Pupil B’s claims that all three had met in Leytonstone and that both pupils had stayed at Mr Barnwell’s flat, with Mr Barnwell and Pupil A sharing his bed and Pupil B sleeping on the floor.

Recommending Mr Barnwell should be banned, the panel said: “Our factual findings taken together provide an abundance of evidence to establish that Mr Barnwell had a relationship with Pupil A, one of his school pupils, which was totally inappropriate and involved sexual activity.”

Imposing the ban on behalf of the Education Secretary, the college's deputy director Alan Meyrick said: “This is a very clear case of unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

“Mr Barnwell abused the position of trust that he held, and, he engaged in sexual activity with Pupil A.

“This is very serious misconduct. I am satisfied that Mr Barnwell’s actions were both deliberate and at times carefully planned.”

He added: “It is my view that the evidence in this case demonstrates that Mr Barnwell’s conduct should lead to a Prohibition Order.

“I have seen no evidence of insight or remorse in this case and I support the recommendation that there should be no review period.”

The decision means that Mr Barnwell is prohibited from teaching indefinitely in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England.

He has a right of appeal to the High Court.

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