A former teacher has been banned from teaching after a professional conduct panel found he had acted "inappropriately" with six children.

Denis McCarthy, 66, claimed he acted in a “grandfatherly” manner hugging and allowing pupils to sit on his lap while teaching at a Rudolf Steiner School in Kings Langley from 1983 until January 2017.

He appeared before a panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency to answer allegations he was guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct that may bring his profession into disrepute because he failed to maintain appropriate boundaries”.

He was dismissed from his employment at the school in January 2017 over parents’ concerns about his level of physical contact with pupils.

Watford Observer:

The panel was not persuaded, however, that Mr McCarthy’s motivations were sexually motivated.

Mr McCarthy admitted to the panel some of the actions that “underlay” the allegations, but he denied any “inappropriate or sexually motivated conduct”.

They heard how on more than one occasion in 2009 Mr McCarthy had encouraged a pupil to sit on his lap, and “wrote letters” on her back with his finger.

In a witness statement, the girl’s mother said of her daughter sitting on his lap: “I thought nothing of this and considered it to be fine. It seemed normal to me."

Subsequent allegations down the years include chasing, picking up and swinging the same girl around and touching her around her waist.

The most serious claim made against Mr McCarthy in relation to the girl was that while alone in a classroom he pushed her against a wall, pulled her leggings and underwear down and told her not to tell anyone of the incident.

Mr McCarthy categorically denied this claim adding he was unable to explain why the girl may have made up the allegation.

One parent told the panel they witnessed a “number of pupils” sitting on Mr McCarthy’s lap in 2010, while another saw him hugging students.

Another pupil alleged he had held her hand, stroked her cheek, placed his arm around her and allowed her to rest her head on his chest. Mr McCarthy accepted contact with the pupil but said he was comforting her after she became upset. The panel found the degree of physical contact “went further” than what would have been appropriate.

While on a camping trip in 2014, a parent alleged they saw Mr McCarthy “sat in the entrance of an open tent” with a female pupil inside. He said he was trying to persuade her to come out. The panel was not convinced there was sufficient evidence he had acted in appropriately.

Other pupils alleged Mr McCarthy had displayed some level of inappropriate behaviour during his career, ranging from allowing them to massage his head to encouraging swear words in a lesson on religion. Both allegations were proved.

Having reviewed claims of unacceptable professional conduct and proved a number of allegations by pupils and parents, the panel was satisfied Mr McCarthy was in breach of the Teachers’ Standards, but that his motivations were not sexually motivated.

Mr McCarthy was banned from teaching for a minimum of three years, subject to review.