A father who booked extra online lessons for his teenage daughter was astonished and disgusted to be paired up with a paedophile teacher.
He had contacted the multi-million pound ‘Go Student’ website last Friday asking about extra Maths and Physics lessons to help with his daughter’s GCSEs.
They booked in a trial session on Sunday and, 30 minutes before the class was due to start, they text him the teacher’s name – Anthony Canavan.
‘Being suspicious by nature I just googled the name,’ said the 49-year-old father, ‘and up popped a story about how a teacher with this name had been struck off for sending naked pictures of himself to a teenage student.
‘There was a picture of the man so I waited to see if the same man appeared on the zoom call to teach my 15 year old daughter and sure enough, it was him. I could not believe what was happening.’
Ex-teacher Anthony Canavan, 60, was banned from teaching for life in 2018 but was found to be offering tuition on ‘Go Student’
After a few formalities, the Dad asked Canavan, 60, if he had ever googled his own name, saying: ‘I have and you’re a paedophile who has been banned from teaching’.
Describing the scene, the Dad, who does not want to be named, said: ‘He mumbled and fumbled and said, “Oh are you talking about that stuff from five years ago”. At that point I terminated the connection and contacted the company.’
In an emailed response, their CEO Felix Ohswald thanked the parent for informing them and said they had immediately blocked Canavan.
It claimed that he had applied to them ‘using a different name’ and then, astonishingly, appeared to admit they hadn’t bothered to carry out basic child safety checks on those they employ.
The email read: ‘Providing a quality learning experience for our students in a safe environment is our top priority. We are a young and fast-growing company and we are doing everything to constantly improve on our service.
‘That’s why we have immediately started working on the implementation of an automated process with DBS to prevent such incidents from happening ever again.’
It went on to offer the parent a visit to their offices in London or Vienna and four weeks of free tutoring.
The father, from Pinner, Middlesex added: ‘It was a pathetic response. How can they expect me to believe this man applied using a different name when I only know his name because they told me?
Go Student CEO Felix Ohswald thanked the parent for informing them and said they had immediately blocked Canavan
‘And what sort of company working with children across the world would not vet their staff?
‘Look, one accepts that there are risks to your children when they are outside of your home but to have a multi-national company sending that risk into your house is quite another matter.
‘I am horrified by how many children this man has had access to and horrified that a company with so much funding could care so little about the safety of their customers.
‘How many more paedophiles do they have on their books? Offering me a free tour of their offices was an insult. They honestly should be shut down.’
The company, Go Student, based in Vienna, Austria, was launched in 2016 and claims to have worked with 10,000 families.
It has attracted over $100 million in venture capital backing and has boomed during the coronavirus pandemic with parents the world over looking to supplement the closure of schools with online support.
In the last few months it has opened new offices in Lyon, London, Madrid, Dusseldorf, Berlin and Milan with further offices in Athens, Istanbul and Amsterdam planned for later this year.
And this week it attracted a further 70 million euros in funding with plans to employ 10,000 tutors.
It was in 2018 that Canavan, then a teacher at the Manchester Communication Academy, was banned from teaching for life over his conduct.
Canavan, who was a teacher at the Manchester Communication Academy (pictured), was struck off after it was discovered he had swapped indecent images with a 16-year-old former pupil he befriended on Facebook
A hearing of the Teaching Regulation Panel heard he had swapped indecent images with the 16-year-old former pupil after befriending her on Facebook in 2016.
Police records showed he had sent numerous text messages to the girl and the Panel’s report found they were, ‘overtly sexually suggestive regarding sexual contact between the two if they were to meet’.
When Canavan was arrested in June 2016, six indecent images of children were found on his phone.
The panel in August 2018 Canavan was arrested for possessing an indecent image of a child in relation to the six photographs Mr Canavan had of Pupil A on his phone at the time of his arrest.
On 2 August 2016, Mr Canavan received a police caution for possessing an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child.
In a letter to the TRA panel, Mr Canavan said he regretted what had happened and that his actions were ‘foolish, irresponsible and unprofessional’.
But panel members said his apology ‘showed little remorse for his actions’ and said he was ‘attempting to make excuses for his behaviour’.
A spokeswoman for GoStudent said: ‘In allowing Anthony Canavan to become a GoStudent online maths tutor we have fallen well below our own standards and safeguarding rules.
‘For this we are deeply sorry. When this was brought to our attention we immediately terminated Mr. Canavan’s freelance shifts and he is no longer able to work as a GoStudent online tutor.
‘We have already changed our hiring practices to make sure that we request an Enhanced DBS check, which is not currently required by UK law for tutoring services. We are also retraining all staff involved in hiring tutors to ensure they understand our safeguarding policies and can apply them properly.
‘Finally we have been in touch with the police and informed them that Anthony Canavan is continuing to seek work with organisations where he has access to children or vulnerable people.’