A senior teacher who was responsible for internet safety has been allowed to stay in the profession despite using school equipment to indulge his sexual fantasies.
Owen Pybus, a maths and IT teacher at Our Lady and St Joseph Catholic Academy in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was found by the national professional conduct panel for teachers to have “viewed and/or created pornographic content on school IT equipment and/or on a school network”.
His actions, at least one of which took place during school hours, were “sexually motivated” according to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) panel’s report which was published today.
Mr Pybus was a classroom teacher and senior leader of education at the school between April 2014 and January 2017.
He admitted a number of allegations, including creating documents and engaging in chatroom conversations of a sexual nature, while using school IT equipment and connected to the school’s network, between November and December 2016. On at least one of these occasions, this was done during school time.
The allegations were reported to the school on 12 December 2016 by Warwickshire ICT Development Service – prompting an internal disciplinary investigation which resulted in Mr Pybus resigning on 4 January 2017.
He was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, and behaviour that may bring the profession into disrepute by the panel.
'Short of expected standards'
The panel stated: “The conduct of Mr Pybus fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession. This is because he committed serious breaches of the school’s policies regarding the use of its IT equipment.”
It added: “Mr Pybus was the member of staff at the school who was responsible for training other staff on the proper use of such equipment and ensuring that IT policies were adhered to. In giving him this role, the school placed trust in him to be a role model to other members of the school community regarding this, and Mr Pybus’ conduct constituted a breach of that trust.”
The panel found that the “inappropriate content did not involve children and was not illegal” and described the material as “low-level adult pornography that constituted a written narrative of a sexual fantasy”.
It stated that it had seen “no evidence of explicit images, and no evidence that Mr Pybus used the school equipment to search for any pornographic content on the internet”.
The panel also found “no evidence that Mr Pybus accessed the content whilst at school”.
The panel report also said that the teacher “admitted the allegations from the outset, has cooperated with the NCTL, and expresses a great deal of remorse for the conduct in his written representations. The panel therefore considers that the risk of the conduct being repeated is very low.”
It concluded: “The panel considers that the publication of the adverse findings it has made is sufficient to send an appropriate message to Mr Pybus as to the standards of behaviour that are not acceptable, and that this meets the public interest requirement of declaring proper standards of the profession.”
The education secretary’s representative backed the panel’s recommendation and upheld the decision to give Mr Pybus another chance, stating: “In my view, a published decision backed up by remorse and insight satisfies the public interest requirement concerning public confidence in the profession.”