A FORMER teacher at one of Dorset’s most prestigious private schools faces a trial after being charged with two sex offences.

County standard tennis player Russell Woolwright, of Well Close, Bristol, appeared at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court for the first time on Thursday, March 27, and at the town’s crown court yesterday.

He faces a charge of adult abuse in a position of trust – causing or inciting sexual activity with a girl and one of sexual activity with a girl as an adult in a position of trust.

It is alleged that he encouraged a pupil to touch him and kissed her on October 25 last year at an address in Wimborne.

He was working for Canford School near Wimborne at the time of the alleged offences.

The 30-year-old has not yet entered a plea to either of the charges on his appearances at court.

A trial date has been set for August 18, but a plea and case management hearing – where Woolwright will be expected to enter a plea – will take place at the crown court on June 17.

He is on unconditional bail.

If found guilty following a trial, the defendant could face between a year and 18 months in prison.

Woolwright is a former member of Team Bath, the brand name of the University of Bath’s sport operation.

He played tennis for the organisation, and represented Avon at a senior level after winning the Under-18 County Junior title for the sport in 2002.

Statement from the school

A statement released by Canford’s head teacher Ben Vessey reads: “I can confirm that a teacher has resigned following an allegation of inappropriate behaviour.

“Canford takes all such matters extremely seriously and, as this is an official police matter, we are unable to say anything further.”

The school has also released its child protection policy, which states: “Canford School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment and to work within the current legislative framework.”