Was it right to ban a teacher from a girls' school for "obsession with sex".
As an expert in medieval history and the author of a series of historical novels, he seemed like an obvious candidate for a teaching role at a girls’ school. And when Dr Michael Davis began work, he was praised by colleagues for the rigour and discipline in his classroom.
But for pupils, there was a problem – his lessons seemed more like Horrible Histories, dwelling on the seedier side of life in bygone days. Children said his lessons were peppered with adult terms and slang, with references to “sex”, “breasts” and “rape”. He told one class that Henry VIII’s split with Rome was hastened because Anne Boleyn had “a bun in the oven”. A class of 11 and 12 year olds were told that in the Middle Ages they would already have been married off, to men of his age. Girls aged 14 and 15 were taught to write essays using the mnemonic “SEX” – S for structure, E for evidence and X for explanation. One class was shown the 15-rated film Restoration, which features sex and nudity in its depiction of the court of Charles II.
According to one pupil, Dr Davis, 55, a divorced father of three, seemed “obsessed with the subject of sex”. Following an investigation by the acting head teacher, the teacher agreed to leave Highbury Fields school, in north London.
Dr Davis – a fellow of the Royal Historical Society – has now been banned from teaching in England indefinitely after a Teaching Agency panel found he had engaged in “unacceptable professional conduct” through repeated use of “inappropriate sexual comments”. He denied making any inappropriate comments to pupils and said: “All my life I had worked hard to maintain my professional reputation. This came as a great blow to me.”
Dr Davis, originally from Ipswich, was educated in America, where he qualified as an attorney and worked as a teacher for more than 20 years. After moving back to Britain in 1999, he served as a magistrate for two years. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is a recognised expert on the Bayeux Tapestry and has published a biography of Henry of Blois, the 12th century Bishop of Winchester. He has also had five historical novels published, which include explicit sex scenes.
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