Bury: Teacher banned after inappropriate touching of pupils in West Suffolk school
PUBLISHED: 10:44 31 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:44 31 January 2014
A Suffolk teacher and head of department has been banned from the profession after touching pupils inappropriately.
A prohibition order has been issued for David Heap, 57, former head of science at Westley Middle School outside Bury St Edmunds, where he had taught for 26 years.
A professional conduct panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership found five allegations against Mr Heap were proven including that he touched three pupils inappropriately, kept pornographic DVDs and magazines in school, and watched pornography DVDs on a school computer.
Mr Heap, who chose not to attend the hearing, denied the allegations of touching pupils inappropriately.
The first incident was reported around December 10, 2010 by a teacher at the school who said she walked into a classroom to find Mr Heap sitting at his desk surrounded by pupils; with his right hand between the legs of a male pupil and the palm of his hand resting on the pupil’s inner thigh.
The school reported what happened to Suffolk County Council and informed the pupil’s parents before holding a strategy meeting.
On January 4, 2011 the headteacher of Westley Middle School issued Mr Heap with a management instruction with stipulations including that he never meet one to one with a pupil in a closed room or allow any pupils in the prep room or science office.
However on November 24 of that year a teaching assistant witnessed Mr Heap openly stroking another male pupil on the head “in an affectionate way”.
On December 6 a different teaching assistant reported to the headteacher that she had witnessed Mr Heap rubbing the back of the head of a Year 5 male pupil, as well as rubbing his arm and the inside of his right upper leg.
Again Suffolk County Council was contacted and at a meeting the next day it was agreed that Suffolk Police would interview the Year 5 pupil, who confirmed that Mr Heap had made contact with him on a number of occasions. Mr Heap was also suspended on advice from Suffolk County Council.
Following his suspension two adult pornographic DVDs and seven adult pornographic magazines were found in Mr Heap’s office. Investigations found that the DVDs had been viewed on school equipment, however always during periods when Mr Heap had no contact with pupils.
The panel concluded that Mr Heap’s behaviour amounted to, “unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.”
However they said there was not enough evidence to conclude an offence of sexual activity was committed.
Mr Heap has been prohibited from teaching indefinitely with no entitlement to apply for eligibility in the future.
Last night the headteacher of Westley Middle School, Nick Templeton, said: “Mr Heap has not worked at the school since December 2012. I followed all the procedures from the local authority and everything I had to do, I did.”
Suffolk Police have confirmed that an incident was reported to them in December 2011.
A spokesperson said: “The matter was fully investigated by officers and all parties spoken to. No arrests were made and the matter was referred back to the school in question.”