MBE-stripped teacher "failed to maintain professional boundaries"

Dudley News: Dave Russon Dave Russon

A FORMER Dudley teacher was stripped of his MBE for sending personal cards to pupils and turning up on school trips when he shouldn’t have, a Teaching Agency ruling has revealed.

Dave Russon, who taught at Ridgewood High School in Stourbridge and before that Longlands, was awarded the honour for services to education in 2001.

But the accolade, presented by The Queen, has been taken away by the Cabinet Office's Honours Forfeiture Committee following “allegations of inappropriate behaviour while at Ridgewood High School”.

The decision to annul the honour, announced in the London Gazette on February 26, follows a Teaching Agency professional conduct panel decision made in June 2012 banning Mr Russon from ever teaching in schools, sixth form colleges, youth accommodation or children’s homes in England - after a 42-year career.

The 67-year-old teacher, who lived in Junction Street, Dudley, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct for breaching conditions imposed in his employment contract in 2006.

The panel heard he sent and gave out Christmas cards and letters to pupils with his personal contact details on in 2006 and 2007, which amounted to acting in an inappropriate manner.

He also breached contract conditions by travelling to the locations of two school trips and spending time with Ridgewood pupils while there.

In February 2006 he travelled to Las Vegas and stayed in the same location as the school trip; and in October 2007 he travelled on a coach with pupils to attend a choir visit in Kent.

The panel said there were significant concerns about Mr Russon’s behaviour and “his failure to observe professional boundaries”.

It also said there had been a number of unsubstantiated allegations made against him but they were not considered in this case, although his behaviour towards pupils led to conditions being imposed on his employment contract in 2003 and again in 2006.

The Secretary of State said of the case: “Mr Russon’s behaviour in deliberately participating in a number of school trips, despite the clear expectation that he should not, shows a clear disregard for the standards expected of a teacher.

“He failed to maintain professional boundaries and lacked insight into his behaviour.”

Mr Russon, taught chemistry at the old Longlands Comprehensive School in Stourbridge, from 1974 and he moved to Ridgewood High School in Wollaston when the schools merged in 1990.

Formerly an administrator for the Dudley Service of Youth Swimming Scheme based at Coseley in his spare time, he taught swimming and lifesaving to hundreds of Dudley youngsters over the years and he helped found the Buckpool School of Swimming, Wordsley.

He also used to run annual pony trekking trips to The Gower, Wales, during school holidays - and used to lecture part-time in biological sciences at Dudley College.

Ridgewood headteacher Clive Nutting said Mr Russon resigned from the school in February 2008 after a disciplinary investigation into alleged breaches of his employment contract during 2007.

He added: “Subsequent to his departure the school has had no contact with or knowledge of Mr Russon, other than being aware that these matters were the subject of a Teaching Agency hearing in 2012."

And he stressed: “Ridgewood High School takes its safeguarding responsibilities very seriously.”

Mr Russon, who is believed to be living in Africa, has been unavailable for comment.

A report on the Teaching Agency’s decision stated he “did not accept that his actions amounted to unacceptable professional conduct”.

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