AN Oldham teacher has been banned from his profession for taking a friend with a conviction for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs on a school trip without authorisation and two drink driving convictions, the second while disqualified from being behind the wheel.

The Teacher Regulation Agency has given David Hewitt, 35, who was teacher at Blessed Henry Newman College in Chadderton a prohibition order barring him from the job until October 12, 2023, when the decision will be "reviewed".

The TRA panel heard that on or around July 7, 2018 Mr Hewitt took pupils from the college on a trip to a local rugby club. But accompanying them was a friend who - unknown to the teacher - had been convicted of conspiracy supply Class A drugs.

Mr Hewitt, the panel was told, failed to declare the friend's presence on the trip or seek permission from the college, as is standard procedure.

A month later Mr Hewitt was found to be nearly three times over legal alcohol limit for driving twice within less than two weeks, the second after being disqualified by the court which eventually gave him a two-month prison sentence, suspended for a year and banned him for three years.

In reaching this decision to serve Mr Hewitt with the prohibition order, the panel accepted that Mr Hewitt was unaware of his friend's previous conviction.

But it went on: "However, in failing to follow correct procedure in not either declaring or seeking permission for the attendance of a third-party Mr Hewitt failed to act in the best interests of the students for whom he was responsible.

"The reason why permission is required was so that checks could be carried out to ensure that anyone attending a

school trip is suitable to do so. That this was not done exposed the students to the potential risk of harm.

"Although Mr Hewitt was unaware of the prior conviction, its existence illustrates the need to be vigilant in ensuring proper checks are carried out before third parties attend school trips.

"The panel considered this conduct to be a serious falling short of what was required in the circumstances."

It was satisfied that Mr Hewitt was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

The TRA was also satisfied that the conduct of Mr Hewitt over the drink driving breached Teachers' Standards by failing to "uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school not undermining fundamental British values and the rule of law".

It said: "Although the conduct that lead to the convictions did not take place within the context of his teaching role, the panel is satisfied that the convictions were convictions for relevant offences because for both offences of driving with excess alcohol Mr Hewitt was nearly three times over the legal limit and that driving with excess alcohol and driving whilst disqualified are serious driving offences.

"The gravity of Mr Hewitt's conduct is aggravated by the fact that the second offence of driving with excess alcohol and the driving whilst disqualified took place less than two weeks after the initial conviction."

The panel took into account the evidence provided on behalf of Mr Hewitt including that he takes full responsibility for his actions, no longer drinks on the weekends or socially and that he has found new employment and is performing well in his employment.

It also took into account that Mr Hewitt has accessed his GP.

The panel found evidence of Mr Hewitt's proficiency as a teacher and also acknowledges that he was involved in teaching challenging and vulnerable young people.