ENGLAND'S GENERAL Teaching Council is preparing for an upsurge in the number of teachers being publicly accused of unacceptable sexual conduct.
Keith Bartley, chief executive of the GTC, said the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) had indicated it would not be responsible for cases such as those where teachers had sexual relationships with older pupils. Instead, it would refer these to the GTC.
He said this meant that a significant number of teachers who would previously have been dealt with behind closed doors would now be referred to public hearings.
This week, Karl Stevens, a 42-year-old Kent teacher who had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl in his class, was banned from teaching for life. It is only the fifth time that the council has handed down its most severe censure.
Mr Stevens told The TES that the GTC had made him a guinea pig for tougher sentencing: "What bothers me is that it's a blemish on my character," he said.
Following last year's row over sex offenders working in schools, the ISA was set up under the chairmanship of Sir Roger Singleton.
From next year, the authority will vet about 11 million people, including all school staff and volunteers, to determine whether they can be trusted around children.
People convicted of sexual offences and other serious crimes will be barred, but the authority will rule on cases of lesser misconduct.
Mr Stevens was not prosecuted by the police or placed on List 99, the list of banned sex offenders maintained by the DCFS.
Instead, the department referred his case to the GTC. But even after the professional body banned him from teaching, he remained unrepentant. Though he taught the girl at North West Kent College when she was 17, he said he had not become close to her until the summer holidays.
He taught her again at Dartford Technology College and they kissed on a school trip. It was when he visited her house to pick up some coursework that the girl, then 18, initiated a sexual relationship.
He did not disclose the relationship to the school.
Mr Stevens said he believed the prohibition was too severe a punishment, disputing the panel's warning that he was a danger to young people. "I've a partner and two young children myself it's a hard thing to listen to," he said.
Mr Stevens resigned and now runs a building company.