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Lecturer who had sex with student is banned

A lecturer who has admitted charges of sexual activity with a student has been banned from working in all FE colleges in the country.

The Institute for Learning's (IfL) professional practice committee imposed an interim suspension order on Wiltshire College lecturer Mark Mullis on "public safety grounds", after he was charged with three counts of sexual activity with a girl when she was under the age of 18 and he was in a position of trust.

Mr Mullis was suspended by the college where he taught practical skills after police officers arrested him on its campus in his home town of Trowbridge in May 2010.

Having already admitted two of the charges, Mr Mullis changed his plea on the third count to guilty during a hearing at Swindon Crown Court last week. He is due to return to the court for sentencing on 13 May.

The offences, which carry a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment, took place between 2008 and 2010.

At an earlier hearing, the court was told that the girl said she got talking to the lecturer on college premises when they were both in the smoking shelter.

Mr Mullis's interim suspension order is in place for 18 months, and will be reviewed every six months. An IfL spokeswoman confirmed that it would remain in place at least until Mr Mullis has been sentenced.

An IfL statement said: "Mr Mullis is now prevented from being employed as a teacher or trainer in the FE and skills sector until the interim order is discharged. The order is imposed on the grounds of being in the public interest and on public safety grounds."

In a letter sent out to all college principals in the country, IfL chief executive Toni Fazaeli wrote: "An IfL member has been charged with a very serious criminal offence, relating to an alleged abuse of trust.

"A professional practice committee made an interim suspension order which means that, pending the full hearing of the case, the teacher is suspended from IfL membership."

Since the introduction of its code of practice in 2008, the IfL has investigated more than 120 cases.

In her letter, Ms Fazaeli told principals: "It is vital that if you become aware of potential breaches of the code that a referral is made to the IfL. If referrals are not made then there is a risk that the reputation of the profession and the sector as a whole can be damaged, and possibly learners and the public interest put at risk."

Mr Mullis, who was director of female cricket at Trowbridge Cricket Club, has also been banned by the England and Wales Cricket Board for life.

A spokesman for Wiltshire College was unavailable for comment. Following his arrest last year, the college said Mr Mullis would remain suspended until legal proceedings have concluded.


Code of practice

The IfL's code of professional practice outlines the standards of behaviour expected of college staff in both full and associate teaching roles.

Concerns about members can be raised by colleagues, learners, other organisations or the general public. The institute can only investigate concerns that relate to professional behaviour, which can include criminal offences or action taken by another regulatory body.

If the IfL's investigating committee considers that an individual has a case to answer, the allegations are considered by the professional practice committee in a public hearing.

A member can be given a reprimand or a conditional registration order, or can be suspended or expelled from the IfL, which effectively means they are not allowed to teach in colleges again.

A member who disagrees with their punishment can appeal to an independent committee.

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