Bristol teacher accused of sexual assault 'very professional'
Former pupils of a teacher accused of sexually assaulting girls as young as nine have told a court he was a "fantastic" teacher.
John Alway, 60, is charged with six sexual assaults and 17 indecent assaults on eight different girls.
School governors and head teachers also provided statements in his defence.
Mr Alway, of Juniper Way, Bradley Stoke, denies the charges alleged to be carried out at four Bristol schools between 1997 and 2004.
The "well respected" former supply teacher, who is married with an adult son and daughter, told Bristol Crown Court it was "absolutely not" the case that he groped the girls.
One former student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the jury: "He was fantastic. Very professional.
"He did exactly as other teachers would do, he would tell you off if you were naughty, but nothing out of hand."
Another added: "He was a brilliant teacher. He was always a very fair minded teacher, he certainly had my respect."
'Committed to teaching'
The court heard Mr Alway was "always willing to go the extra mile" and helped out with sports and reading classes.
One mother, who was also on a school board of governors, said: "I thought he was an excellent classroom teacher.
"I never saw anything that would remotely trigger an alarm bell. He occasionally patted children on the head, but I never saw anything that would make me even slightly uneasy."
Other statements read to the court described Mr Alway as a "supportive" teacher who "wanted the best out of every child".
"I can sincerely commend Mr Alway," said one former head teacher who knew him for about 12 years.
"He was committed to teaching and especially in those schools in challenging circumstances."
The prosecution allege girls in Mr Alway's classes were brought forward to his desk and had their backs and bottoms felt by him.
Other girls alleged they were "touched inappropriately" during PE lessons.
The judge in the case has directed the jury to return a not-guilty verdict on an attempted-rape charge.