Johannesburg – A former teacher at Grey High School has been banned from England’s classrooms after he admitted performing a sex act on a pupil he had hypnotised at the Port Elizabeth school 27 years ago.
English teacher Stephen Pieter Grobbelaar, 53, had approached the boy and asked him if he was worried about his final exams.
A disciplinary board in England was told the boy was concerned about his maths performance and so Grobbelaar said it would improve if the boy, then aged 16, allowed him to hypnotise him to make him believe he enjoyed maths.
The teacher was in charge of the “school farm” which was used for sport and leadership activities and where it was common for Grobbelaar to perform hypnosis in front of a room full of pupils.
The board was told the pupil agreed and the pair met at the school’s guidance centre where the boy was hypnotised.
Grobbelaar then removed the youngster’s tracksuit pants and performed oral sex on him while the pupil was under hypnosis.
The teacher then stood behind the pupil and rubbed his bare penis against his buttocks.
Grobbelaar admitted to the UK’s National College for Teaching Leadership (NCTL) hearing that his conduct was sexually motivated.
A week later Grobbelaar approached the boy again and said the hypnosis had to be “reinforced” in order to be effective and arranged another hypnosis session.
On that occasion he put the pupil under a trance and told him he would recall nothing of the previous sexual assault and that he enjoyed maths.
Grobbelaar admitted the second hypnosis was to prevent the events of the first one from being discovered.
Three years later after leaving school the boy remembered what happened and told Grey High School.
It is unclear what action, if any, the management took but Grobbelaar subsequently left the school where he had taught between 1987 and 1990 and where he had also worked as a guidance counsellor.
In August last year the boy – only named as Pupil A in the report findings – discovered his former teacher was working at a school in England and so contacted it to tell the management what had happened to him.
The school – Windlesham House in West Sussex where fees are up to R490 000 a year – investigated the complaint and head of history Grobbelaar resigned from his post.
The school said it was shocked by the disclosure and immediately told the British authorities but there was no suggestion he had committed similar acts in the UK.
At the NCTL hearing Grobbelaar admitted the alleged facts and signed a statement of agreed facts.
The NCTL panel ruled that it had been “unacceptable professional conduct” and that he had failed to treat the pupil with dignity and safeguard his well-being.
Panel chairwoman Janet Draper said: “The panel recognises that Grobbelaar’s actions seriously damaged a pupil aged 16 at the time and for many years after. Mr Grobbelaar was in a position of trust, which he breached in a deliberate and carefully planned manner.
“Nevertheless, the panel has been presented with a body of evidence which suggests that the teacher has shown remorse and insight, has attempted to atone for his actions over a considerable period and is ashamed of what he did.”
She added: “The evidence before the panel suggests that this was an isolated incident involving one pupil, which took place over 25 years ago. The panel is also persuaded from his employment record and references as a teacher over the last 22 years that he is an excellent and inspirational teacher. The panel believes the risk of repetition of the behaviour is low.”
Paul Heathcote from the Department of Education ruled that Grobbelaar should be banned indefinitely from teaching in any school, sixth form college or relevant youth accommodation.
He added: “The admitted behaviour is a serious departure from the standards expected of a teacher, involving the abuse of a position of trust and having a serious effect on a pupil over many years.”
Grobbelaar has 28 days to appeal the decision to London’s High Court. – The Sunday Independent