Tonbridge School and (inset) Russell Tillson

A former teacher has been charged with historic sex offenses at one of Kent’s most prestigious state schools, spanning 17 years.

Russell Tillson, a Conservative councilor for New Romney City Council, was charged with five counts of indecent assault on boys at Tonbridge School of £45,000 a year between 1984 and 2001.

At Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court last week, prosecutors said the 71-year-old was a teacher at the school, where he was seen as the “gatekeeper for pupils regarding their applications to Oxford and Cambridge universities”.

He pleaded not guilty to all five counts and was released on outright bail, to appear at Maidstone Crown Court on April 19.

As well as holding a seat on New Romney Town Council, the councilor is also a representative of St Mary in the Marsh Parish Council and previously served as Deputy Leader of the current Folkestone & Hythe District Council.

Cllr Tillson is also Chairman of the Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association.

Tonbridge School said it was unable to comment on the ongoing court case.

Southborough physical education teacher dismissed

The former head of physical education at a Southborough school has been banned from the classroom following an assault conviction.

In a report released by the Teaching Regulation Agency last week, Paul Stead, 57, was said to have worked at Meadows School in Southborough since 2004.

He was sentenced with a community order and a restraining order at Mid Kent Magistrates’ Court in July 2019 following a charge of assault causing bodily harm in connection with an assault earlier in the year, but not in an educational institution.

The panel said the offense “caused harm to a person” and that “the panel considered that Mr. Stead’s behavior in committing the offense would be likely to affect public confidence in the teaching profession, whether Mr Stead was allowed to continue teaching”.

The panel banned Stead from the classroom indefinitely, but said he would be allowed to seek removal of the “restraining order” in five years.