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Teacher viewed internet porn

A teacher who admitted viewing internet pornography while working at a unit for difficult pupils has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

England's General Teaching Council gave James Parkinson, formerly of Ruffwood school in Kirkby, Merseyside, a five-year conditional registration order.

He used a computer at the Hyton learning support unit, where he had been seconded to teach excluded pupils, to log on to pornographic websites.

Wendy Middlemas, children's service manager with Knowsley council, said:

"Most of the material was pretty offensive and very inappropriate."

Some of it was considered so explicit that it was not shown to her by council technology workers.

Ms Middlemas said that the material was of, and for, consenting adults. Had it been of any other nature she would have reported the matter to the police.

An attempt by Mr Parkinson, who had taught since the mid-1970s, to have his GTC disciplinary hearing held in private was rejected on the grounds that it was not in the public interest.

He did not attend the hearing in Birmingham and was not represented. In a written statement Mr Parkinson said he made brief visits to each site, simply to check that his credit card had not been misused.

Mr Parkinson resigned in December 2002 to take early retirement. "I have absolutely no desire to return to the teaching profession," he said in his written statement.

He was discovered looking at images of a sexual nature by a colleague.

An internal investigation was launched and Knowsley council's IT department found evidence that he had visited pornographic sites during school hours on numerous occasions during September and October 2002.

During a meeting to discuss his conduct in October 2002, Mr Parkinson admitted that viewing and downloading pornography was an "inappropriate thing to do, in his position". He said young people could have been at risk of viewing the material.

Sashi Sivaloganathan, chair of the disciplinary panel, said: "Such conduct by a teacher is not acceptable under any circumstance."

The conditions of the registration state that if Mr Parkinson returns to teaching any employer must monitor his internet use and send an annual report to the GTC about his computer conduct.

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