Yorkshire teacher thrown out of profession over relationship with female pupil

A former teacher at a Yorkshire school has been barred from the profession indefinitely for failing to maintain appropriate boundaries with a female pupil.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 26th May 2015, 8:23 am
A teacher helping a pupil during a lesson. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Michael Lingard, who worked at the school until 2012, told the girl she was “beautiful” and “special” and kept a picture of her “in a state of undress” on his computer, according to a misconduct panel.

It was found that after giving the pupil his personal mobile phone number, the 41-year-old “failed to take appropriate action” after getting text messages saying she loved him and wanted to kiss him.

Details of the case have been published on the website of government agency the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), though the school was not identified.

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We have chosen not to reveal the identity of the school after the NCTL said that to do so could “potentially identify vulnerable pupils”.

In its judgement, published online, the NCTL’s misconduct panel concluded that Mr Lingard’s actions were not sexually motivated.

But it ruled that his relationship with the girl, named only as Pupil A, “went beyond the bounds of friendship” and that his conduct “fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession”.

After finding him guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct”, the panel imposed a prohibition order meaning he is barred from teaching indefinitely. He cannot ask for the decision to be reviewed for three years.

Police investigated the nature of the relationship between Mr Lingard and the young pupil but decided not to take criminal action.

After analysing the texts sent by Pupil A, officers said the “pattern of contacts arises from an, albeit inappropriate, platonic relationship”.

The panel’s report said “Mr Lingard...accepts that he did not discourage Pupil A and nor did he report her obvious feelings for him”.

It also considered a letter written by the teacher it described as “expressive and emotional” but with “no express sexual references”.

It said: “The panel also noted that, on the evidence before it, the letter did not actually appear to have been sent by Mr Lingard. Mr Lingard did accept that the letter was written by him and it showed that he was ‘far too emotionally attached’.”

Mr Lingard worked at the school between September 2006 and August 2012 before moving on to work at another school in September 2012. He was suspended in November 2012 and resigned in June 2013.

The Principal at the second school described Mr Lingard as “an exceptional and gifted teacher” but believed there was a “mutual infatuation” between him and Pupil A, according to the panel’s report.

The misconduct panel wrote: “There was no evidence that Mr Lingard’s actions were not deliberate or that he was acting under duress although he alluded in his written submissions to having had a period of stress.

“The panel accepted the evidence of the Principal that Mr Lingard was an exceptional and gifted teacher but the panel did not consider that this, in any way, detracted from the seriousness of his conduct.

“Mr Lingard did express regret for his actions and acknowledged that he had made errors of judgement although he gave no explanation as to why he engaged in the course of conduct in the first place.

“Moreover, Mr Lingard does not demonstrate any awareness at any point in his communications with the National College the effect his behaviour may have had on Pupil A.

“The panel is of the view that prohibition is both proportionate and appropriate in this case. Mr Lingard’s conduct was serious and involved a failure to maintain appropriate professional boundaries.

“The panel has decided that the public interest considerations outweigh the interests of Mr Lingard. The protection and well-being of pupils was a significant factor in forming that opinion as was the lack of recognition by Mr Lingard in his written responses to the allegations of the impact and effect his actions may have had on Pupil A.”

It concluded: “The panel has taken into account how the teaching profession is viewed by others and considered the influence that teachers may have on pupils, parents and others in the community.

“The panel has taken account of the uniquely influential role that teachers can hold in pupil’s lives and that pupils must be able to view teachers as role models in the way they behave.

“The panel therefore finds that Mr Lingard’s actions constitute conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.”

Mr Lingard and a spokesperson for the school declined to comment on the report.