A teacher in his 50s has been banned from the profession after writing a “lengthy” love letter to tell a sixth-form student that she had always been in his heart.
Simon Pratt was a business studies, economics and law teacher at Wrenn Academy in Northamptonshire.
A report from the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) says that Mr Pratt, 59, had taught the pupil in Years 10, 11 and 12, and that she had approached him about her personal problems.
He sent the letter, entitled “my dearest”, when she was in Year 12.
The report says the letter was “highly personal in nature and contains sexualised references to romantic and social encounters, physical contact with Pupil A, and Mr Pratt's personal feelings towards her”.
It adds: “The letter is lengthy and contains numerous personal references to his relationship with Pupil A. Direct reference is made to the personal issues which Pupil A had discussed with Mr Pratt.
“Furthermore, Mr Pratt makes extensive reference to Pupil A's physical appearance, such as her eyes, lips, skin, legs and clothing.
“Mr Pratt states that he is in love with Pupil A and that she has ‘always been in my heart’. Mr Pratt expresses his wish to touch, snuggle and kiss Pupil A.”
In the letter, the teacher also said he had set up a new email account for the pupil, so that she could communicate with him secretly, and referred to providing a mobile phone that was anonymous and so “untraceable”.
The report says Mr Pratt later asked the pupil to delete one or more of the messages he had sent her.
There is no evidence or allegation that Mr Pratt had any inappropriate physical contact with the pupil.
The TRA says Mr Pratt agreed that the letter was inappropriate but strongly denied any sexual motivation, but the TRA panel, on the balance of probabilities, disagreed.
It says: “The panel is of the view that Mr Pratt conducted himself without proper regard to how his actions might impact Pupil A, particularly given her personal issues and vulnerabilities which were well-known to him.
“Mr Pratt completely failed to take into account Pupil A's best interests in communicating with her, and then seeking to involve her in concealing his correspondence to her.”
In mitigation, the panel accepted that Mr Pra was “exposed to work pressures and suffered some ill-health in consequence”, and was of previous good character and had a good teaching record.
However, it says that he did not act under duress, and although he expressed regret, “this fell short of remorse”, and that he “to some extent sought to apportion some responsibility to her for his actions”.
Dawn Dandy, who made the final decision on behalf of the education secretary, ruled that Mr Pratt be banned from teaching indefinitely, but be allowed to ask for the prohibition to be put aside after two years.