‘I think I love you more than any other woman’ – teacher at girls’ boarding school near Hitchin banned after kissing and hugging student

Dr Darren Cassidy has been banned from teaching over his conduct with a student at Princess Helena C

Dr Darren Cassidy has been banned from teaching over his conduct with a student at Princess Helena College in Preston, near Hitchin. - Credit: Archant

A former teacher and doctor at a school near Hitchin has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and barred from teaching – after kissing and hugging a pupil and telling her he ‘loved her more than any other woman’.

A professional conduct panel at the National College for Teaching and Leadership ruled the behaviour of Dr Darren Cassidy was sexually motivated.

Cassidy, who taught mathematics at Princess Helena College in the village of Preston near Hitchin between September 2014 and the summer of 2015, was initially interviewed by staff at the highly-respected private school, before he resigned on June 19, 2015.

Cassidy was also found guilty of exchanging mobile telephone numbers with the 18-year-old pupil, sending and receiving text messages from her, kissing her on the forehead and hugging her, trying to kiss her on the lips, speaking to her inappropriately, inviting her to his house and failing ‘to take action or any appropriate action when pupil A took a number of tablets.’

The 47-year-old also told her ‘I think about you a lot’, and ‘I really, really like you’ – before also adding ‘I think I love you more than any other woman’. The report also states when the pupil was drunk in a taxi ‘Mr Cassidy admits he sent her his home address and told her to get the taxi driver to drop her off there’.

The commission stated Cassidy was: “Guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and conduct bringing the profession into disrepute in while working as a teacher at Princess Helena College”. He also failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries and appropriate professional standards.

The school – which was originally founded in 1820 to educate the orphaned daughters of members of the armed forces and clergy – is a popular day and boarding school for girls aged between 11 and 18, situated in 180 acres of rolling hills, fields and beautiful woodland.

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In a 2016 report the Independent Schools Inspectorate found the school met all standards relating to the quality of education provided.

A school spokesman told the Comet: “Dr Cassidy resigned from Princess Helena College on Friday, June 19, 2015 fewer than 10 months after being appointed, following concerns raised the previous evening relating to breaches of our e-safety and staff conduct policies.

“These matters were fully investigated and immediately referred to the relevant authorities. We also advised all students, staff and parents that Dr Cassidy had left the school and the reason for his departure.

“The National College for Teaching and Leadership has undertaken a professional conduct enquiry which recognised the school had appropriate policies in place – but Dr Cassidy acted in breach of these with the individual girl involved.

“The school’s policies are in place to ensure the safety of students and staff.

“We regularly confirm all staff are aware of and understand our policies and we have an open and positive culture where any concerns can be raised and action taken quickly, as was the case here.

“We treat any allegation of a breach extremely seriously, as does the NCTL, which has taken the decision to prohibit Dr Cassidy from teaching indefinitely.”

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