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Suffolk teacher spared ban after ‘bondage’ porn memory stick discovered on classroom floor by pupil

PUBLISHED: 06:52 11 April 2017 | UPDATED: 06:52 11 April 2017

Bungay High School. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Bungay High School. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Nick Butcher Photography 01502 714843

A Suffolk teacher who took a memory stick loaded with pornography into school has been allowed to continue working in education.

Joel Gunning admitted he had taken the pen drive into Bungay High School last April, when it was found on the classroom floor by a pupil.

It contained almost 2,500 images and videos, including material categorised as BDSM (bondage, domination, sadomasochism), along with documents containing pornographic references and text.

Suffolk police viewed the device and took no further action against Gunning, who was head of drama and an English teacher for five years, but is understood to no longer be employed at the school.

He was suspended last May pending an investigation into his conduct. When interviewed by the school, he confirmed the drive belonged to him and that it contained pornography.

A professional conduct panel found he had failed to maintain appropriate professional standards by creating a situation whereby pupils could be exposed to viewing pornography, including pornography which could be deemed extreme.

Gunning admitted unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

The panel said he had breached standards which dictate that teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school.
A report by the National College for Teaching and Leadership called it a “serious misconduct” which fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession.

It said public confidence in the profession could be seriously weakened if Gunning’s actions were not treated with the utmost seriousness.

The panel said it had carefully considered the effect of a ban, but that his conduct appeared to have been an isolated ‘one-off’ incident and, although there was a potential for the well-being of pupils to be impacted, there was no evidence it had happened.

Evidence also suggested that Gunning’s actions were not deliberate; that he had a previously good record at the school, where he was employed for more than 10 years since qualifying as a teacher.

Decision maker Jayne Millions, on behalf of education secretary, agreed with the recommendation.

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