A former Montrose Academy teacher was allowed to return to the classroom twice after separate allegations of making inappropriate comments to schoolgirls.
It is claimed Steven Gowans, 60, told a 12-year-old her skirt would “end up on the floor” and put his hand on her bum or hip in October 2019, shortly after his suspension from the Angus school was lifted.
The maths teacher says, after this, he was transferred to Monifieth High School where he worked for two years until retirement.
He was previously alleged to have made similar comments to two older girls and was accused of regularly asking girls to “twist his knob” to open his classroom door.
It is also claimed he talked to pupils about drinking alcohol, knowing they were underage, and used indecent or drugs-related mnemonics for the maths CAST acronym.
Both police and his employer Angus Council investigated the allegations.
But a hearing into his conduct by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, which began on Tuesday, was told the council found insufficient evidence to proceed with formal disciplinary action.
Gowans told the hearing the pupils had “fabricated” all of the allegations against him.
He claimed: “They have all worked together on this.”
One of the girls, he suggested, would sit and “scowl at me all the time” and wouldn’t let him see her jotter to help her with his work.
When asked if the older pupils might have a grudge or grievance against him, he claimed one of the allegations was made just after they had received their prelim results.
Presenting officer, Gary Burton, said the pupils’ statements to police were very specific about what had happened.
Dresses for Montrose Academy Christmas dance
One girl told police Gowans saw her and her friend looking at pictures of dresses for a Christmas dance on a mobile phone and said they would be “off by the end of the night”.
Denying he had ever been shown such photos, he said: “Teenage girls are not seeking fashion advice from a middle-aged maths teacher. I have never been shown any pictures by any pupils. It doesn’t happen.”
Of the alleged mnemonic, he insisted he stuck to what he was taught at school – All Sinners Take Care – and said: “I wouldn’t say that kind of thing in private never mind in public in front of a classroom.”
Montrose Academy depute head teacher Karen Taylor told the hearing how a mother phoned the school in February 2018 to say her daughter had “arrived home upset”, telling her Gowans had made inappropriate comments and rubbed her back.
She was unaware of any of the pupils involved making false allegations against any other pupil or staff member.
Not enough evidence
Angus Council service leader Jim Hammond said the council had been unable to gather statements from all the pupils involved and it had a “flat denial” of the claims from Gowans.
He said: “The conclusion that we came to was there was not enough evidence to support an investigation continuing.”
Gowans’ hearing, being conducted virtually, is scheduled to conclude on Friday.
If his fitness to teach is found to be impaired he could be struck from the GTCS register.
Angus Council declined to comment on the case.
A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “A then 55-year-old man was arrested and charged in connection with a communications offence in March 2018. A report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.
“A further report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal in November 2019.”
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service confirmed there were no active proceedings against Gowans.
The full allegations against Gowans being considered by a GTCS panel are:
- When shown a photograph of dresses on a mobile phone he said to Pupil A “What’s the point in spending so much money on dresses when they boys would have them off by the end of the night” or words to that effect
- When teaching pupils about CAST diagrams he used the mnemonic All Strippers Take C*** and/or All S**** Take C*** and/or All Students Take Cannabis
- He said to various female pupils “twist my knob” when unlocking his classroom door
- He discussed pupils drinking Prosecco and vodka knowing that they were under 18
- When viewing a photograph of a dress on the mobile phone of Pupil D, he said to her “That dress will show off your curves nicely” and “It will be off by the end of the night anyway” or words to that effect
- He placed his hand on the back of Pupil A and rubbed his hand up and down her back causing her to feel uncomfortable
- When Pupil C, then aged 12, was fixing her skirt he said to her “there’s no point of pulling it up when it’s gonna end up on the floor”
- He put his arm around Pupil C and placed his hand on Pupil C’s buttock and/or hip causing her to feel uncomfortable.
The first six allegations are said to have occurred between August 16, 2017, and February 2, 2018, and the final two on or around October 21 and 24, 2019.