Lesbian teacher, 31, is struck off for having sexual relationship with her former pupil immediately after she left school and moved her into her home
- Gemma Beckett, 31, started teaching 18-year-old when she first joined school
- Ms Beckett was a teacher at John Henry Newman Catholic College, Birmingham
- The pair struck up a mutual romantic relationship in late 2016 that intensified
- Ms Beckett admitted allegations of misconduct and has been struck off
A female history teacher has been struck off for having sex with her former pupil and moving the teenage girl into her home.
Gemma Beckett, 31, started teaching the 18-year-old when she first joined John Henry Newman Catholic College, Birmingham, as a year 13 pupil in September 2016.
A misconduct panel heard later that year the schoolgirl, whose mother had just died, and Ms Beckett, began a ‘mutual romantic relationship with each other’.
Teaching watchdogs were told the relationship ‘intensified in 2017’ and in July the teenager – referred to only as Pupil A – left the school’s roll and moved into Ms Beckett’s home in October.
But an investigation was only launched in September 2019 when the school was alerted to their relationship.
Ms Beckett, who had worked at the school since 2013, resigned before the investigation concluded and has now been banned from the classroom following a Teaching Regulation Agency ruling at a hearing in Coventry.
Ms Beckett did not attend the hearing but admitted all of the allegations in her signed response.
She also admitted ‘that her conduct amounts to unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute’.
Gemma Beckett, 31, started teaching the 18-year-old when she first joined John Henry Newman Catholic College, Birmingham, as a year 13 pupil in September 2016
The panel was told that the teacher and teenager had exchanged gifts which the teacher did not tell her superiors about and had met outside school, including in Ms Beckett’s home.
It was also accepted Ms Beckett ‘engaged in sexual activity with Pupil A’ and ‘she moved Pupil A to live in her home’.
The panel ruled: ‘Ms Beckett’s conduct was sexually motivated and that she had entered into an inappropriate relationship with a pupil.
In the panel’s view, whilst Pupil A was over the age of 18 from the start of the conduct complained of, and had left the College before the most serious conduct commenced, the relationship had arisen as a result of Ms Beckett being her teacher and there was some culpability even after Pupil A was no longer on the roll at the College.’
The probe also discovered late-night emails sent from the teacher’s College account to the student’s personal Gmail, where they also swapped numbers, and that the pair had exchanged gifts.
Ms Karen McArthur, who chaired the panel, said: ‘It was clear from the documents that these were sent to a Gmail account, which included Pupil A’s name at the start of the email address.
‘The panel was therefore content that Ms Beckett had corresponded with Pupil A, via Pupil A’s personal email account.
‘From the timings of the emails, it was similarly clear to the panel that these were sent out of College hours and, on occasion, late at night or early in the morning.
‘These emails included conversations of a personal nature, such as information on Ms Beckett’s university degree, and nicknames and slang terminology being used.’
Ms Beckett told the college that she had ‘been discreet’ about the relationship’ so she did not put colleagues into difficult position’ and ‘moved the conversation on’ if asked about her personal life.
Ms McArthur added: ‘Pupil A was over the age of 18 from the start of the conduct complained of, and had left the College before the most serious conduct commenced.
‘The relationship had arisen as a result of Ms Beckett being her teacher and there was some culpability even after Pupil A was no longer on the roll at the College.’
Sarah Buxcey, acting on behalf of the Education Secretary, banned Ms Beckett from the classroom – but she will be allowed to appeal for reinstatement after five years.
Ms Buxcey added: ‘In the light of the panel’s findings against Ms Beckett, which involved her developing feelings for Pupil A and entering into a relationship with her whilst, for a short time, she remained a pupil at the College, there was a strong public interest consideration in respect of the protection of pupils.
‘Similarly, in the light of there being findings of dishonesty and a lack of integrity again Ms Beckett, the panel considered that public confidence in the profession could be seriously weakened if conduct such as that found against her was not treated with the utmost seriousness when regulating the conduct of the profession.
‘Her dishonest conduct was, effectively, one of omission / diversion and the sexual misconduct was with an adult, albeit one who was a pupil (or had been a pupil in recent time).
‘In the panel’s view, these factors just mitigated the seriousness to a level that did not require them to be deemed ‘serious’.
‘I have also noted ‘The panel did not, however, have any further material before it from Ms Beckett to explain how she allowed the events to develop.
‘This was would have assisted the panel in its consideration as, being mindful that Ms Beckett was a relatively newly qualified teacher, she should have been more aware of the risks regarding teacher/pupil relationships, by virtue of her training’.
‘In my judgement, the lack of insight means that there is some risk of the repetition of this behaviour.’
The panel dismissed only one allegation – that Pupil A was vulnerable – even though Ms Beckett believed she was.
The teenager may have been vulnerable in late 2016 but the complaints related to a period three months after that – and there was no evidence she was still vulnerable then, the panel found.
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