Teacher had online chats with 16-year-old about sex toys
A teacher who engaged in explicit online discussions with a 16-year-old former pupil about her dressing up in a nurse's uniform and using sex toys has been suspended from the profession.
Lee Butcher, who taught English at Garforth Community College in Leeds, also kissed a Year 13 student at a school social event, the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) heard.
Mr Butcher admitted that he had conducted inappropriate and sexual conversations with the former pupil for three months on social-networking website Facebook between May and July 2009.
"This included a discussion about (her) posing for pictures in front of a webcam while dressed in underwear and a nurse's uniform; enquiring about the use of a 'rabbit' sex toy; and seeking to ensure that she was alone and that conversations were kept quiet," a GTC professional conduct committee found.
Mr Butcher also admitted that he had kissed a Year 13 pupil at a sixth-form leaving party and that the student had moved in with him after leaving school. Mr Butcher informed the school's child protection officer about both the kiss and the fact that they were living together.
No criminal proceedings were brought, but an internal disciplinary investigation at the school found Mr Butcher's actions had brought the name of the college into disrepute and had led to a breach in trust and confidence. Mr Butcher was sacked for gross misconduct in December 2009.
The GTC said teachers must not establish social contact with pupils with the aim of becoming friends.
"The committee accepts that the contact was initiated by her, but nonetheless to engage in sexually explicit exchanges for a period of around three months is entirely inappropriate," its ruling said.
"The committee is particularly concerned that, during the exchanges, Mr Butcher sought to ensure that she was alone and that conversations were kept quiet. It is apparent therefore that Mr Butcher realised that the contact was inappropriate."
The panel added that kissing a pupil at a school event was "equally inappropriate". "Teachers have a responsibility to pupils and their parents, who are entitled to expect that teachers respect the trust that is placed in them," it said.
Mr Butcher had not been in trouble before and produced references saying he showed promise as a teacher. The GTC also noted that Mr Butcher had been remorseful and had never sought to deny his offences.
"Those matters notwithstanding, the committee notes that Mr Butcher disregarded well-established and well-known child protection principles and failed to maintain appropriate boundaries with two young persons," it said.
Although serious, the committee decided that Mr Butcher's offences were not "so serious" to be "fundamentally incompatible" with pursuing his career. Mr Butcher was suspended for 12 months, after which he will be able to return to teaching.
A teacher has been suspended for six months after he was found guilty of accessing "salacious" and gambling websites on a school laptop.
Gavin Hill, who taught at Seaton Burn College in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, looked at sites including one displaying "leather underwear" and a variety of poker and video-game websites while employed at the school between July and September 2009.
Mr Hill showed "little, if any, insight into his behaviour and no remorse", the General Teaching Council for England ruled.