Secret prom encounter ended career

23rd September 2011 at 01:00
Relationship 'blurred boundaries'

A history and RE teacher has been banned from the classroom for two years after forming an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old pupil who exposed her breasts and "private parts" to him at a school prom.

Christopher Taylor, who had drunk three double bourbon and Cokes at the event, failed to alert senior management to the incident, the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) ruled last week. The prom was one of a number of examples of Mr Taylor failing to maintain proper boundaries with the Year 11 pupil at Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge, Suffolk, a GTC conduct committee heard.

The newly qualified teacher also spent time alone with the pupil during sports day, activities week and in the school library, and communicated with her by text message and online instant message, the committee heard.

In a separate incident, Mr Taylor used his mobile phone to send a picture of his penis to an unknown person, the GTC said.

Concerns about Mr Taylor's behaviour were investigated after the girl told an adult in July 2007 that she was in a relationship with Mr Taylor. Following a disciplinary hearing at the school, he was fired.

In evidence to the GTC, Mr Taylor said he regularly allowed the girl to use his classroom for private study alone while he was present. He admitted that he had received two cards from the pupil, one of which contained her mobile phone number.

The GTC ruling said: "Mr Taylor volunteered that he was too familiar, that he allowed a blurring of boundaries to occur (and) that he adopted a semi-mentor role when she was not his pupil."

He had not received any official warnings about his behaviour but had been warned by colleagues to be careful, the ruling said, adding: "Mr Taylor states that while he was in the disabled toilet at the school prom, pupil A came in and exposed her breasts and private parts to him. He accepts he did not inform senior management at the time, but did try to some time later but was unsuccessful, as he claims they were unavailable."

Mr Taylor was arrested regarding his relationship with the pupil, but was not charged with any offence.

The GTC said it had taken into account that the events had happened at the start of Mr Taylor's career, that he had been effectively unable to teach for the past four years, and that he "feels he has something to contribute to the teaching profession".

But it ruled his behaviour had fallen short of the standards expected of a teacher and he must be suspended for two years.

"Mr Taylor's behaviour ... was an abuse of his position of trust and involved a vulnerable pupil," the ruling said. "His behaviour had potential to seriously affect her education and well-being, and we are not satisfied that Mr Taylor has full insight into the consequences of his actions."

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