A teacher who stole money given to him by students for theatre trips has been banned from the profession for a minimum of five years.
Andrew Cowey, who taught at Dene Community School from September 2012 to June 2017, pleaded guilty to theft at Durham Crown Court in December 2017, and was sentenced to a community order, as well as being forced to pay £5,000 in compensation.
Now, he has been banned from teaching following a conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency.
It found he had accepted money from students in relation to theatre trips, but logged some of the pupils as attending for free, or as benefitting from funding from the Friends of Dene charity. He then retained the money for himself.
The panel also heard he had deleted school trip funding spreadsheets, in order to “prevent others from accessing the true account as to which pupils had paid money”.
He also amended letters to pupils’ parents regarding the cost of the trips, in an attempt to “cover up the amount of missing money”.
Despite Cowey being told by the school’s headmaster not to take any more money from pupils for school trips, in April 2017, the teacher took a further £170 from a pupil and then gave a false explanation as to why he had taken this money home.
The panel said: “Public confidence in the profession could be seriously weakened if conduct against him was not treated with the utmost seriousness when regarding the conduct of the profession.”
Alan Meyrick, chief executive of the TRA and decision maker, agreed with the panel’s recommendation that Cowey be banned for five years.
“In my view, it is necessary to impose a prohibition order in order to maintain public confidence in the profession,” he said, adding: “Although he has shown some remorse, Mr Cowey’s behaviour was deliberate and sustained over a period of time.”
Cowey will be able to apply for the order to be set aside, but not for five years.