School rugby coach is banned from teaching after asking female pupils to send him naked pictures and taking them on beach trip without permission
A rugby coach has been banned from teaching after asking pupils for nude pictures, a professional hearing has been told.
Earlier this week an Education Workforce Council (EWC) fitness to practise committee was told a school rugby coach sent inappropriate messages to pupils and asked them if they would send him nude pictures.
Gavin Williams, who was working as Aberdare Community School’s head of rugby, was claimed to have messaged eight pupils via Instagram and Snapchat and made sexual comments about their bodies, as well as sending them topless photos of himself.
The fitness to practise committee was told that Mr Williams, who was a Welsh Rugby Union Hub officer at the time, had also taken a group of female pupils to Aberavon beach for a ‘school trip’ without permission, after a rugby tournament was cancelled.
On Tuesday the committee was told he had driven one girl to the opticians in the middle of the school day, before later falsely claiming that she was his cousin.
The rugby coach was arrested in late 2019 on suspicion of sexual communication with a child.
Gavin Williams, 34, asked girl pupils to send him nude pictures in secret messages, a misconduct panel has heard
The teacher is said to have asked one girl if she had a boyfriend, and told her to send him pictures ‘of her pretty face’ and ‘rude ones of her boobs’
His phone was searched, with 1,200 messages downloaded from it, but South Wales Police later decided not to proceed with prosecution.
An internal inquiry was launched, but Mr Williams resigned from his position at the school – which he had held since 2014 – with immediate effect on April 19 2021, the day before a planned disciplinary hearing was set to commence.
Among the messages he sent pupils, Mr Williams asked one girl if she had a boyfriend, and told her to send him pictures ‘of her pretty face’ and ‘rude ones of her boobs’.
The hearing was told he later falsely told the same girl that another teacher at the school had ‘made comments about her t**s and a**e’. This member of staff was questioned but was not subject to disciplinary processes – with the committee told that Mr Williams’ lying ‘could have ruined this teacher’s professional reputation’.
Presenting officer Sara Lewis said Mr Williams ‘denied 90% of the allegations,’ and had admitted his language was ‘inappropriate and stupid,’ but insisted it was meant as ‘a bit of banter’.
He also claimed the investigation was ‘a witchhunt,’ she told the hearing.
Williams was the head of rugby at Aberdare Community School in South Wales (pictured)
On Thursday, January 13 the committee found a number of the allegations to be proved, including that Mr Williams sent messages to one pupil asking her to ‘send a picture of her pretty face’.
The committee deemed it was inappropriate to send such messages to a learner, and noted that some of Mr Williams’ actions were wholly inappropriate.
He also sent another message to a different learner stating: ‘The older boys must snap you up all the time.’
Some of these messages were said to be sent late at night, and were also deemed to be inappropriate.
Chair of the committee, Steve Powell, also discussed the allegations surrounding the beach trip which the committee found to be proved.
When asked if he thought the trip was wrong, Mr Williams was said to have responded: ‘By law of the school, yes. I don’t think it was harmful.
‘It was a good morale boost – they enjoyed it – my intentions were in the right place. It was just the wrong thing to do really.’
Mr Powell said it was clear that some of the messages exchanged with students was for the sexual gratification of Mr Williams, as he was ‘asking for pictures and asking about their relationship with boys.’
The committee heard that Mr Williams was never registered with the Education Workforce Council, but the allegations found proved were deemed to fall significantly below the standards expected of a professional in a role such as his.
Concluding the hearing on Friday, January 14 Mr Powell said: ‘Mr Williams was found dishonest and showed a sexually motivated conduct of a sexual nature.’
The committee granted a prohibition order, which prevents Mr Williams from teaching in schools in Wales.
His name will be erased from the EWC register, but he can make an application to re-enrol in three years time.
The hearing was told he also has the right to appeal the committee’s decision with the High Court.