Teachers found with child porn will be banned, says Department of Education

 

Anyone cautioned or prosecuted for child pornography offences in the future will be banned from teaching, the Department for Education said.

The announcement was made as Education Secretary Michael Gove came under increasing pressure to explain why his department approved a decision to allow a teacher who downloaded indecent images of children back into the classroom.

The move sparked widespread condemnation and Mr Gove has now been urged to appear in the Commons to tell MPs why Geoffrey Bettley, 36, was reinstated after police found nearly 200 child abuse images on his computer.

In a statement a DfE spokesman said: "We want to ensure that in future anyone cautioned or prosecuted for offences related to child pornography is prohibited from teaching.

"We are taking steps to revise the guidance the independent panel uses to make a decision on whether a teacher should be barred."

It is not clear whether the announcement is retrospective and will cover Mr Bettley, who had been suspended from St Mary's Catholic School in Menston, West Yorkshire in December 2010.

Mr Bettley accepted a police caution and was dismissed by the school following a disciplinary hearing in December 2011.

But a professional conduct panel has ruled that the RE teacher should be allowed to return to teaching after concluding he "does not represent a risk to children and young people".

The decision was signed off by a senior official at the Department for Education.

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said that many parents would be "deeply disturbed" that Mr Bettley had been allowed to teach again.

Speaking during the weekly Commons business statement, Mr Davies said: "He downloaded child porn images and was rightly sacked by the school and put on the sex offenders register.

"In a decision which has been ratified by the Education Secretary, he's now been told he's allowed back to teach again.

"I'm sure you will appreciate many parents will be deeply disturbed someone who has been convicted of downloading child porn should be allowed to teach again.

"Can we have a statement from the Education Secretary so he can explain what on earth he was thinking about when he allowed this person to teach again?"

Commons Leader Andrew Lansley replied: "I have read the press reports relating to this matter and of course it was a decision taken by the National College of Teaching and Leadership, which was then endorsed by a senior official at the department.

"I will, of course, contact Mr Gove so he might be able to give you an account of the process in this case."

In its judgment, the National College of Teaching and Leadership professional conduct panel said the images viewed by Mr Bettley were "not at the most serious end" of the scale and there were "relatively few" on his computer.

The panel said it had considered it safe to conclude that the RE teacher "does not pose a risk to children".

While Mr Bettley's actions were a "serious departure" from the official Teachers' Standards, the panel said, it added that it did not consider that there was evidence of "a deep seated attitude on the part of Mr Bettley which leads to harmful behaviour".

The panel's report added: "In the circumstances, the Panel does not consider that it would be appropriate to recommend prohibition to the Secretary of State and it does not."

At the end of the Panel's report, under a section on the Secretary of State's decision and reasons, a senior DfE official said: "Although the findings in this case are serious ones, for the reasons set out, I support the recommendation of the Panel that a prohibition order should not be applied in this case."

Mr Bettley was employed at St Mary's from September 2001 to December 2011.

He visited a website in March 2009 where he viewed six child abuse images, according to the panel's ruling.

When his computer was seized by the police in December 2010, 143 images were found at level one, which covers nudity and/or erotic posing.

A further 46 images considered to be at level three on the scale were found but had not been opened, the panel said.

Mr Bettley acknowledged that the images were of underage children and were child abuse images and admitted to police that he had accessed and viewed the images, the panel said.

He was cautioned for the offence of possessing an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child and placed on the sex offenders register for two years, according to the ruling.

In the judgment, the panel said Mr Bettley's conduct had brought his profession "into disrepute" but acknowledged the Independent Safeguarding Authority had since removed his name from the Children's Barred List and the Adults' Barred List.

A report from Leeds Children and Young People's Social Care in September 2011 had also concluded that Mr Bettley posed little risk, the panel added.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We keep the process under review because of legal complexities and we are examining whether this case was handled correctly."

A DfE spokeswoman later said that under current law, the announcement cannot be applied retrospectively.

All schools must carry out vetting checks when recruiting staff and a caution of the type Mr Bettley was given would be highlighted.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower