A fitness to practise committee has heard how Mark Jones, a college lecturer from Ammanford, told one of his pupils that she could stay the night in his home if she agreed to do work at the property.

Mark Jones taught the teenager on an introductory painting and decorating course and is accused of  contacting her from his personal phone on numerous occasions, giving her presents, and completing a college exam paper on her behalf.

The teenage pupil – referred to as Learner A – informed staff at Coleg Sir Gar in Ammanford, that Mr Jones once stood so close to her to demonstrate a painting technique that she could feel his breath on her neck, the committee heard.

On Tuesday, May 11, an Education Workforce Council hearing was told how “inappropriate” Mr Jones’ behaviour towards his pupil was, and that an investigation discovered he had also falsified exam papers for his students.

Sara Lewis, presenting officer, told the hearing that in September 2019 ‘Learner A’ told staff that she had been offered £100 by Mr Jones to complete a decorating job at his home and said she could then stay overnight at his house in a spare room.

Sarah Hopkins, who was responsible for the college’s own internal investigation, said: “It was not appropriate for Mark Jones to offer her paid work at his home or to stay overnight. This behaviour compromised his professional responsibilities.”

Learner A also described Mr Jones’ behaviour as “over-friendly with her”, and went on to say that Mr Jones had text her during the final two weeks of college term to inform her that he had completed an official examination for her.

Completed on a day she was absent from college, the exam paper was said to be in Mr Jones’ handwriting. Following a review of other papers, Mr Jones’ handwriting and red ink pen was also believed to have been used on completed tests for two other pupils who were absent that day.

Mrs Hopkins said Mark Jones was “surprised and upset” with the allegations, telling internal college investigators that he would only text Learner A if she was absent from his class.

Mr Jones said the gifts he gave her were a book on confidence and a healing stone because Learner A “was very anxious”.
Sarah Hopkins said Mr Jones claimed he was worried for the girl’s welfare as she had talked about feeling low and he was concerned she might “do something stupid”.

Mr Jones went on to say that he would never allow a student to stay in his home, and that he had told Learner A that she could stay in an outside cottage while doing the work at his home which he would have paid her “eight or nine pounds an hour” for.

Representing Mr Jones, Ruaraidh Fitzpatrick asked Mrs Hopkins whether the allegation the teacher had entered Learner A’s personal space in class could be justified by him needing to demonstrate a painting technique to her.
Sarah Hopkins answered: “I can’t think of a classroom demonstration where you’d have to stand so close to a student that you’d be breathing on her neck.”

Mrs Hopkins went on to describe the girl as “quite vulnerable” and “timid”.

Mr Jones accepts that he did contact Learner A using his personal mobile phone, offer her paid work in his home and gave her one or more gifts, but he denies allegations of inviting her to stay overnight in his home, invading her personal space, sharing personal information about his private life with her, breaching professional boundaries, or that his actions were inappropriate, Mark Jones also denies that his actions could be described as unacceptable professional conduct.

Mr Jones also denies that he completed a City and Guilds Level 1 Painting and Decorating assessment for three of his pupils.

The hearing continues.