Teacher who stole school-trip money from children banned from his job after ‘unacceptable’ behaviour

Andrew Cowey.
Andrew Cowey.

A secondary school teacher who stole money pupils gave him for a school trip has been banned from the job for at least five years.

Andrew Cowey, a former teacher at Dene Community School in Peterlee, was previously given a community order and ordered to pay £5,000 compensation after admitting the theft at Durham Crown Court.

Dene Community School in Peterlee.

Dene Community School in Peterlee.

Professional conduct panel, the Teaching Regulation Agency, has now found the 28-year-old acted dishonestly, including deleting data to try and hide the thefts.

The TRA said in 2016 and 2017, Cowey took money from students for trips to the theatre, but falsely recorded some children as attending for free or receiving funding from a charity.

He also changed letters to parents about other trips to cover up the amount of money missing from the school.

The theft was discovered in April 2017 and Cowey was ordered by the headteacher not to take any more money from pupils, but the next day took £170 from a student.

Cowey admitted unacceptable professional conduct and was given a teaching prohibition order, which he can apply to have lifted in five years time.

Alan Meyrick, chief executive of the TRA, said: "The panel is satisfied that the conduct of Mr Cowey clearly fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession over a lengthy period of time.

"The panel has taken into account how the teaching profession is viewed by others and considered the influence that teachers may have on pupils, parents and others in the community.

"The panel has taken account of the uniquely influential role that teachers can hold in pupils’ lives and that pupils must be able to view teachers as role models in the way they behave. "

He said Cowey's conduct "amounts to both unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute".

The panel also took into consideration the teacher's account of the emotional difficulties he was suffering at the time.

But, Mr Meyrick, said: "There was no evidence that the teacher’s actions were not deliberate. There was no evidence to suggest that Mr Cowey was acting under duress, and in fact the panel found the teacher’s actions to be clearly dishonest although he did have a previously good history.

"In my view, it is necessary to impose a prohibition order in order to maintain public confidence in the profession. Although he has shown some remorse, Mr Cowey’s behaviour was deliberate and sustained over a period of time."