Banned: Teacher who had sexual activity with two pupils

Laurie Softley banned after having sex with pupil she invited to her home

John Roberts

A teacher has been banned from the profession

A music teacher who took part in sexual activity with two pupils after inviting them to her home has been banned from teaching for life.

Laurie Softley, 34, had sexual activity with the male pupils in incidents five years apart while working at Ecclesbourne School, in Derbyshire.

She had been given a final written warning by the school after the first incident, which took place more than 10 years ago.

However, allegations then came to light about sexual activity with another pupil in 2013, which resulted in a new investigation.

She has now been banned from teaching for life after a Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) panel ruled that her actions were deliberate and sexually motivated.

It found that she was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

The first allegation against her was that around 23 May 2008 she invited a male pupil to her home and had sex with him.

Ms Softley was said to have contacted the pupil through Facebook and had arranged to meet up in a pub. They then went to her home, where they had sexual intercourse.

She admitted to sexual activity with this pupil during an internal school investigation and was given a final warning for gross misconduct.

The TRA panel also found that she had engaged in sexual activity with another pupil around Christmas 2013.

She was said to have contacted him by text message and made arrangements to collect him in her car to take him to her home address.

The pair had alcoholic drinks and Ms Softley initiated a kiss with the pupil.

They met again at her home around Christmas time and took part in sexual activity before the pupil returned home in the early hours of the morning by taxi.

Ms Softley and the pupil had denied having sexual activity when this matter was originally investigated by the school after a teacher had overheard pupils talking about a suspected relationship.

However, the matter was looked into again in 2017 after the pupil said that he had engaged in sexual activity with Ms Softley.

Police investigated the matter but no criminal charges were made. The school then conducted its own investigation.

Ms Softley resigned from the school on 8 September 2017.

She did not respond to the allegations put to her by the TRA.

The panel noted that in a letter to the TRA's legal representatives Ms Softley had said that she had left teaching and had no intention of returning.

In recommending she be banned from teaching, the TRA report said: “Ms Softley's conduct in engaging in inappropriate sexual activity was repeated and on each occasion followed a similar pattern.

"Moreover, despite having received a warning for her conduct towards pupil A in 2008, Ms Softley went on to act in a similar way in respect of pupil B.

“As recognised by both pupil A and B in their evidence Ms Softley abused her position of trust in exploiting the power imbalance between herself and the pupils. There was little or no evidence that Ms Softley had any insight into her actions."

It said the mitigating factors in Ms Softley’s favour were the fact that she had no existing TRA findings against her, and her abilities as a music teacher.

The DfE has accepted the TRA’s recommendations that Ms Softley be banned from teaching with no entitlement for the order to be reviewed.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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