A FORMER acting headteacher from Catshill Primary School - banned from classrooms for life after cuddling and tickling pupils - has spoken of how schools treat 'children like robots'.
Brett Holden, who says he never sought out physical contact with pupils, was seconded from St George's Primary School in Kidderminster to take over the reins at the Bromsgrove school from January to August 2012.
Mr Holden, aged 37, was employed at St George's Primary from September 2008 until April 2013.
As he gave his account of his alleged "inappropriate" behaviour, a group of parents of his former pupils at St George's, sprang to his defence.
A statement from the group of parents said they were sad to lose Mr Holden and confused about the reasons.
They described him as "an excellent, caring teacher from the profession, who inspired our children in all areas of their education, particularly in the subject of mathematics, instilled confidence into both children and parents and brought a sense of community to the school".
One of the mothers described Mr Holden as "quite a tactile, caring, understanding and thoughtful person", who had given her daughter a hug at a time when she was upset.
The education secretary imposed the lifelong ban on Mr Holden after a professional conduct hearing of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) found he regularly had physical contact of an inappropriate nature with pupils, mainly girls in years five and six.
He was said to have "cuddled", "embraced" and "tickled" pupils, let them sit on his lap and called some by pet names.
Other incidents included him visiting a dormitory alone after the girls using it had gone to bed on a school trip.
Mr Holden disputed some of the versions of the incidents considered by the panel.
He said that, at the end of the day on the residential trip, some pupils had jumped on to his lap - but he had got up to remove them as soon as possible.
And he claimed the reason he checked on the girls in the dormitory was that he was group leader and the only teacher on the trip.
Mr Holden said he resigned and left the teaching profession after the investigation started because it was making him ill.
"I haven't been convicted of anything in a court of law - I've done nothing legally wrong," said Mr Holden, who is now running his own businesses.
"If children came to me and they were upset or had a problem, as a male, maybe I should have said 'go away' - but that's not the sort of person I am.
"These days, in schools the children are treated like robots - they have no feelings as long as the pupils perform and they get the right statistics."
Mr Holden, who says he has not decided whether or not to appeal against the decision of the conduct hearing, added: "I've blocked that area of my life out - there are things I want to get to do and I have my businesses to run."