Teacher viewed explicit photos of pupil

22nd July 2011 at 01:00
He is banned after 'sexually allusive' web chat with girls

A teacher who viewed explicit photographs of a pupil and engaged in a "sexually allusive" web chat with two others has been banned from the classroom indefinitely.

Mark Pledger, 28, was sacked from Alderman Blaxill School in Colchester, Essex, after it was discovered that he been in "inappropriate" contact with a pupil over seven months and had looked at pictures of her on his school laptop.

A General Teaching Council for England (GTC) panel heard he had left his previous school under a cloud following a late-night internet chat with two girls, during which he asked one what she wore to bed and urged her to pose in front of a webcam.

Mr Pledger, who taught PE and maths, now works as a recruitment consultant at a specialist teaching agency in the same area.

He joined Stewards School in Harlow in June 2005 and left in April 2007 after agreeing a "compromise agreement" with the school.

The GTC panel said a transcript of an internet chat that took place between him and pupils A and B contained content that was "inappropriate for a conversation between a teacher and pupils" and was "sexually allusive" in nature.

Six weeks after leaving Stewards School, Mr Pledger began working as a supply teacher at Alderman Blaxill. He was given a contract a year later and was put in charge of pastoral care for Years 7-9.

But in January 2009 it was discovered that he had been communicating online with pupil C, an Alderman Blaxill student, since the previous June.

He had used his school laptop to view sexually explicit images of the girl as well as pornographic videos of other women, the panel heard.

Last week he was struck off the teaching register indefinitely, and he must wait at least three years before he can apply to be allowed to teach again.

Panel chair Paul Bird said: "There is no doubt in the committee's mind that this conduct was unacceptable and fell hugely short of the standards to be expected of a teacher.

"Mr Pledger has himself accepted that his conduct amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.

"This order reflects the serious departure from the standards expected and the fact that this conduct seriously affected pupils - particularly pupil C. It was a huge abuse of his position."

A month after his dismissal in July 2009, Mr Pledger started working in the Chelmsford office of the agency School Staffing. The company's website says he has Qualified Teacher Status.

Jason Robinson, director of School Staffing, said he was "fully aware of the case" when contacted by The TES. He said: "It does not affect his role in any way. If there are any amendments that need to be made to our website to reflect his current status, that will be forthcoming."

Mr Pledger told The TES he was not aware of the GTC's decision to bar him from teaching. He answered "no comment" to all other questions.

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