'Championing the rights of children'

Teachers to be barred from schools over indecent images

Garry Wed 24 Jul 2013 08:31

Teachers who download indecent images of children will be automatically banned from the classroom as part of a new crackdown on sex offenders.

The Department for Education said that guidance for teacher disciplinary panels would be toughened up to protect schoolchildren.

The move follows outrage over a decision to allow a teacher who downloaded child abuse images back into the classroom.

Geoffrey Bettley was sacked from St Mary's Catholic school in Menston, West Yorkshire, after being cautioned by police who found almost 200 indecent pictures on his computer.

But a professional conduct panel – set up by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) – ruled that the religious education teacher should be allowed to return to the classroom because the images were “not at the most serious end" of the scale.

The decision was also signed off by a senior official at the DfE.

Now the Government has set out revised guidance to the NCTL to be used when deliberating on cases of alleged teacher misconduct.

The guidance – which will be subject to a public consultation – says there should be an “expectation that any sexual misconduct” will lead to an automatic ban from the classroom.

For the first time, the guidelines make clear that any criminal conviction or caution that involves indecent images of children is “likely to lead to prohibition”, even if it is a one-off incident. In the past, the panel could consider the severity of images and spare teachers who only access less serious pictures.

Read more... (Daily Telegraph - 22 July)