Kent teacher 'lied about dying girlfriend' to take leave

Fosse Bank School in Sevenoaks Image copyright Google maps
Image caption Former teacher at Fosse Bank School in Sevenoaks guilty of misconduct

A teacher "fabricated" a terminally ill girlfriend so he could take compassionate leave, a misconduct panel has heard.

Matthew Watts took leave throughout 2015 while at Fosse Bank School in Sevenoaks.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) said the girlfriend did not exist.

Mr Watts did not provide any evidence she was real but admitted lying on one occasion.

The primary school teacher took short-notice leave on dates throughout January and September 2015, then a full month off between November and December when he claimed she died.

On one occasion he said he was supporting his girlfriend at a police station, but later admitted that was untrue, the report stated.

'Difficult and unhappy'

It said: "He need only provide a minimal amount of information about his former partner to establish that he had been telling the truth about her all along.

"Mr Watts has consistently refused to provide that information to anybody. Instead, he has repeatedly asserted that he must keep information about the identity of [the girlfriend] private."

It added: "He says that when he was taking time off school he was doing so to look after his long-term girlfriend... The NCTL say that this girlfriend is a fabrication."

In the report, Mr Watts stated "any lies he told were because the head teacher was going out of her way to make his working life as difficult and unhappy as possible".

The teacher, who did not attend the hearing, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, but had previously good history and avoided being banned from the profession.

The report said it was unacceptable for teachers to take an "unannounced leave of absence and subsequently mislead their employers as to the reasons for it."

The panel also ruled that the NCTL's allegation Mr Watts fabricated a girlfriend, as "not proved".

It said: "Given that the panel was not satisfied that sufficient evidence had been adduced by the NCTL to prove that [the girlfriend] did not exist, the panel finds this allegation not proved".

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