A female teacher has recently been banned from teaching for at least three years for having a relationship with a sex offender and not telling her school. The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) has Teacher Misconduct Panel banned Mrs Francesca Rogers from teaching until at least 2020.
Who are the NCTL?
The NCTL regulates teachers in schools, including academies, independent schools, sixth form colleges, youth custody settings and children’s homes. The role of the NCTL’s Professional Conduct Panel is to decide whether it is necessary to recommend to the Secretary of State that a teacher is made the subject of a prohibition order, preventing them from teaching.
When considering allegations of serious misconduct against a teacher, the NCTL will decide if a teacher’s behaviour is fundamentally incompatible with being a teacher. If so, they will decide if it is necessary to recommend a prohibition order.
Facts of the case
Mrs Rogers qualified as a teacher in 2000 and started working at Larkhill Primary School, Salisbury, in September 2010. She was separated from her husband and lived alone with her two children.
In early 2015, Mrs Rogers entered into a personal relationship with a man being investigated for child sexual offences. Prior to the relationship, the man had been arrested and was on bail. Mrs Rogers stated she was informed by his mother that he had been arrested for chatting online with a girl who turned out to be 16 years old. The mother informed Mrs Rogers that his actions had been an innocent mistake and he had not known the girl's age. Mrs Rogers stated she was given the same explanation by the man himself.
In October 2015, the police investigation relating to the online chat with the 16 year old girl was dropped, but the man was charged with offences of making indecent images of children. Mrs Rogers' position was that she did not know about these charges.
The allegations were that the teacher entered into a personal relationship with a person who she knew was being investigated for viewing indecent images of children; failed to inform her school of the personal relationship; denied to authorities on one or more occasions that she was in the relationship; and was dishonest in trying to conceal the relationship.
Key regulations and guidance
The Panel considered the guidance for safer working practice for those working with children and young people in educational settings. Under the heading, 'Standards of behaviour' it states:
“There may be times where an individual's actions in their personal life come under scrutiny from the community, the media or public authorities, including with regard to their own children, or children or adults in the community. Staff should be aware that their behaviour, in or out of the workplace, could compromise their position within the work setting in relation to the protection of children, loss of trust and confidence, or bringing the employer into disrepute.”
The same guidance also states:
“This means that staff should…be aware that behaviour by themselves, those with whom they share a household, or others in their personal lives, may impact on their work with children.”
Although Mrs Rogers did not co-habit with the man in question the Panel accepted that the he was involved in her personal life.
The Teachers’ Standards also played a key part in the findings. The Panel was satisfied that Mrs Rogers' conduct, which included dishonesty, was misconduct of a serious nature which fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession.
The National Union of Teachers said it was disappointed with the sanction imposed and was considering an appeal.
Disqualification by association
In October 2014, the government issued supplementary guidance to ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education (2014)’. This guidance said that school staff are disqualified from working in a school, when they ‘live or work in the same household’ as someone who is barred from working with children or young people, even if they would not otherwise be disqualified themselves.
You may remember or have been involved in the operational impact this had on schools which resulted in people being suspended from their work and, in some cases, they were dismissed. In many schools, staff were asked to sign a declaration that they did not meet the ‘disqualification by association’ criteria. However, in February 2015, the government issued new guidance which replaces the October 2014 document and clarifies the position with regard to schools called Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006. It is now not necessary for schools to ask staff to complete a self-declaration form to obtain information about whether a staff member is ‘disqualified by association’, but they do need to ‘take steps to gather sufficient and accurate information’ about staff.
Schools must record the date on which disqualification checks were made, either on the single central record or separately.
If you wish for further advice on the single central record or advice on safeguarding cases then please contact our HR team who are specialists in this field and even offer a Single Central Record Audit and are accredited Safer Recruitment trainers.