Blackburn teacher sent Valentine card and love songs CD to pupil

AN EXPERIENCED teacher who sent a Valentine’s card and love songs CD to a ‘vulnerable’ student has been barred from the classroom.

Christopher Turner, 57, tracked down the pupil via the computer system at St Bede’s RC High, Blackburn, and invited her to become a Facebook ‘friend’, the Teaching Agency’s professional conduct panel was told.

And once he had made the approach, in September 2011, he went on to deliver a birthday card to her, the panel heard.

The following February he hand-delivered a Valentine’s card with a plastic heart and a CD of 18 love songs he’d selected for her.

Mr Turner, who had taught at the Livesey Branch Road school for more than 12 years before returning as a supply teacher, then offered to meet her in a park.

Later a complaint was made and Mr Turner was given a police caution for causing or inciting sexual activity with a female aged 13 to 17, the hearing heard.

The Teaching Agency panel was told that Mr Turner had an unblemished educational record and no previous complaints recorded against him.

The panel also heard the pupil was considered ‘vulnerable’ as she had previously been in a relationship with an older man, in a suspected ‘grooming’ case.

Mr Turner admitted a charge of unacceptable professional misconduct and did not attend the hearing in Coventry.

In his ruling on the case, Alan Meyrick, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education, said: “Mr Turner’s behaviour falls significantly short of that expected from a teacher. His actions were deliberate and sustained over a period of time.

“He knew that Pupil A was vulnerable and yet he made deliberate efforts to contact her and embark upon an unacceptable relationship.”

Mr Turner has been issued with a prohibition notice, preventing him from teaching in future.

Because of his previous record, the panel decided he would be able to seek a review, to overturn the sanction, in five years’ time.

The panel heard Mr Turner, whose address has not been released, taught at the Blackburn school from February 1999 until August 2011, when he officially retired.

But he returned to the school for regular shifts as a supply teacher.

He was cautioned by police over his conduct in March 2012.

Des Callaghan, headteacher at St Bede’s, said: “As soon as the allegation came to light, the school took immediate and appropriate action.”

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