Former Stevenage teacher banned after sending sexual image to pupil on Facebook

A TEACHER has been banned from the classroom after sending a “sexually explicit” image of himself to a pupil and asking if she was single.

Andrew Sutton, who worked at The Barclay School in Stevenage, has been barred from teaching indefinitely following a prohibition order made by education secretary Michael Gove.

The 27-year-old was found guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct” by a Teaching Agency disciplinary panel, in a decision announced on Friday.

Mr Sutton was employed at the secondary school in Walkern Road between September 2007 and April 2009 as a PE teacher, and the panel said he made contact with Pupil A – a student at Barclay when he taught there – by sending a friend request message on social networking website Facebook around five months after he left.

The panel said: “Mr Sutton began to exchange Facebook messages with Pupil A. In May 2011 he contacted Pupil A via Blackberry messaging and made comments to her which suggested he was attracted to her and asked if she was single.

“He accepts sending a number of messages to Pupil A which included sending an inappropriate and sexually explicit image of himself. Mr Sutton accepts that he engaged in inappropriate communications with Pupil A.”

Mr Sutton, who later taught at Oak Bank School in Leighton Buzzard between February and May 2010, did not attend the meeting but has admitted his conduct was unacceptable, the panel said.

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Recommending a teaching ban, the panel said: “We are significantly concerned by Mr Sutton’s behaviour.

“It is clear to us that Mr Sutton took steps to contact the student and then, after a break, sent direct messages to her which were unsolicited.

“He sent a highly sexualised image to her and communicated in a manner which was highly inappropriate. His actions were deliberate and he was not acting under duress.”

Teaching Agency deputy director Alan Meyrick, speaking on the education secretary’s behalf, concluded: “Mr Sutton’s behaviour fell seriously below the standards expected of the teaching profession. His behaviour was deliberate and had the potential to cause damage to Pupil A and his actions placed her and the reputation of the profession at risk.”

Sutton, who has 28 days to lodge an appeal in the High Court, cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England.

He can apply for the order to be set aside in December 2022, and would be able to teach again if the panel agrees the ban should be lifted.

A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council, speaking on behalf of The Barclay School, said: “We take child protection very seriously and carry out detailed criminal record checks on all teachers. None of the charges against Mr Sutton took place while he was a teacher at the school and the school has a strict code of conduct in place about staff use of computers outside school.”