A teacher at an all-girls public school has been jailed for 15 months for conducting a secret sexual relationship with a pupil.
Emily Fox, who taught PE at the £25,000-a-year Royal Masonic School for Girls in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, exchanged hundreds of “sexually explicit” messages with the 15-year-old girl.
The pair struck up a friendship in November 2012 but from Easter 2013 developed an “intense” bond that involved kissing and later sexual touching, a court heard.
The relationship was discovered in August last year when a revealing email was printed out inadvertently and seen by the parents of the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Fox, 26, from Bath, pleaded guilty last month to four counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust.
Passing sentence, Judge Stephen Gullick said he had no doubt she was a “gifted and well-loved” teacher. But he said: “In my judgement, you were always aware that the relationship was not only wrong but also unlawful.” He stressed that “this type of behaviour towards pupils by teachers” must be seen as “extremely grave”.
Sally Mealing-McLeod, prosecuting, said “It began with kissing... and then, a little later on, turned into more of a sexual relationship.”
When spoken to by police, the victim at first denied any relationship, the court heard. After a second visit she disclosed what had happened.
Ms Mealing-McLeod said an “abundance” of evidence to support the charges was discovered in WhatsApp messages between the pair. “There are hundreds and hundreds of those messages,” she added, including correspondence trying to work out how to “cover up” the relationship.