Teacher guilty of unacceptable conduct

A TEACHER has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct after a number of “inappropriate” incidents at a Suffolk school.

Kate McGrath

A TEACHER has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct after a number of “inappropriate” incidents at a Suffolk school.

Desmond Harris was working as a teacher at Hadleigh High School when he suggested to his tutor group that in order to achieve an A grade they could 'sleep with the teacher'.

He also asked one female pupil about her sex life, whether she was having her menstrual period and offered to give her a hug.

At a professional conduct committee meeting held yesterday, the General Teaching Council for England decided to punish the teacher with a reprimand to remain on the register for two years.

They heard that in February 2004, whilst alone with a female pupil, Mr Harris asked if she wanted a hug and whether she had been having sex.

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The council said this behaviour fell below the 'standard of propriety'.

They added: “Mr Harris showed a lack of judgement in discussing these intimate matters alone with a female pupil. It was entirely inappropriate for him to suggest physical contact with this pupil in the form of 'a hug'. We are of the view that by his actions he seriously demeaned or undermined the pupil.”

The following year during an unstructured lesson in his tutor group he set out a scenario in which he asked the class to write a 'thank you' letter for achieving an A grade. He suggested that one of the options that could appear in the letter to explain this achievement was 'sleeping with the teacher'.

The teaching council said: “It was a misjudgement to raise the prospect of sexual activity between teachers and pupils. There was no evidence he was attempting to incite pupils to sleep with him, but even if intended as a 'joke' this was inappropriate and failed to maintain proper boundaries in his relationship with the pupils.”

Both of the above incidents were classed as unacceptable professional conduct.

There was another incident brought before the hearing in which a pupil sustained a head injury while in Mr Harris' class and left the class alone to go to the medical centre. The council ruled his actions had been a 'misjudgement'.

Mr Harris didn't attend the hearing, but gave an explanation in writing to the teaching council.

On reprimanding Mr Harris, the teaching council ruled that he had made “serious misjudgements”, rather than “malicious intent”.

“We have therefore decided in these circumstances that a reprimand is the proportional and appropriate order.”

The order took immediate effect.