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Disgraced Chigwell School RE teacher struck off for inappropriate relationship and comparing pupil to Shrek’s wife

PUBLISHED: 17:12 23 August 2017

Chigwell School

Chigwell School

Archant

A school’s head of religious studies got drunk on a school trip, sent inappropriate Facebook messages to a student and compared another to Shrek’s wife, a tribunal heard.

Stephen Goodfellow, 48, who was a teacher at Chigwell School, sent the student a message saying “I can’t just stop loving you” shortly after she had left the school in December 2015.

Whilst she attended the school, he sent emails from his personal email account to the pupil’s personal email account, where he referred to her as “sweetheart”.

At a misconduct hearing on August 15, the teacher accepted that shortly after the pupil had left the school he developed a “romantic attachment to her”.

There was no suggestion or allegation that his conduct was sexually motivated.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership panel heard that the pupil had health issues and could become isolated from other class members.

The panel found Mr Goodfellow failed to treat pupils with dignity and respect on two occasions.

In 2011, he compared a second pupil to ogre Shrek’s wife “Fiona” which upset the student.

In 2013 at a meeting about taking subjects in the Sixth Form, Goodfellow was approached by a third pupil and her mother about taking Religious Studies as an A-level subject.

Mr Goodfellow laughed and stated “Are you seriously thinking of taking RS?”, again upsetting the pupil.

On both occasions, the students were left “feeling embarrassed and humiliated”, the panel heard.

The tribunal found both of these allegations proven.

In 2012, the 48-year-old teacher attended a residential school trip to Mersea Island, in Essex.

The panel heard that the teacher, who became head of religious studies in 1990, drank four glasses of wine and a glass of port on the first night.

On the second night, Mr Goodfellow drank four glasses of wine and also a beer.

He admitted that it was inappropriate to consume this amount of alcohol and that by doing so he failed to safeguard pupils.

To make matters worse, he had already received a warning for drinking alcohol too frequently on a school trip he attended in 2010.

In a warning letter sent to Mr Goodfellow in November 2010 about his conduct, the deputy headteacher stated that his behaviour was leading to gossip.

It said: “I need hardly add that we cannot afford anything like this happening again”.

On that occasion, Mr Goodfellow was told that he could neither organise nor attend a residential trip until 2012 at the earliest.

The letter, which was read out at the panel hearing, said: “This will give the rumour mill a chance to fade away and means that pupils have forgotten what happened on this trip”.

However the teacher did attend a trip to Mersea Island in 2011 - this passed without incident.

An allegation that Mr Goodfellow had dishonestly failed during a disciplinary meeting to fully notify the school of his conduct with the first student, was not upheld.

In their concluding remarks, the panel said: “Over a number of years, Mr Goodfellow has shown a cavalier attitude towards compliance with school policies and warnings from senior members of staff.

“Even when giving his evidence to the panel, and whilst he had expressed remorse, he did not inspire the panel with confidence that he truly understood the seriousness of the overall nature of his conduct.”

Mr Goodfellow has been banned from teaching indefinitely but will be able to apply to have the ban set aside in 2019.

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