Welwyn Garden City teacher 'tried to hide pupil emails'

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James South had worked at Monk's Walk School since 2013

A teacher who accessed a pupil's email account in order to send her messages and later delete those he had sent has been struck off for misconduct.

James South, 28, worked at Monk's Walk School in Welwyn Garden City and tried to remove the emails after the school began investigating in November 2016.

A misconduct panel report said many of the emails "seemed to encourage the pupil's emotional dependency" on him.

He also failed to report a safeguarding issue and was banned from teaching.

Mr South, who had been employed by the school since 2013, admitted emailing the pupil about 30 times between 12 August and 2 September 2016, including some messages late at night.

He also sent an email from his own account which included: "Literally every member of staff I spoke to today said you were amazing and that they wish you could do it every year. Take some deeps breath and try to relax. You are a fav [sic] person. Trust me I know."

'Lack of self-awareness'

A friend of the pupil reported Mr South's "inappropriate friendship" to the school's student support officer and it was referred to the police, who took no further action.

A school disciplinary investigation ensued and a misconduct panel found he used her email account to conceal the volume of messages they were sending.

Mr South was unable to say what his motivation for the communications with the pupil had been.

"This lack of self-awareness and disregard for professional boundaries caused the panel a lot of concern", the report said.

The panel found an allegation that the communication had been sexually motivated unproven.

But they said the findings of misconduct are "particularly serious" because of the failure to report safeguarding and barred him from teaching,

Mr South can reapply to return to teaching in two years.

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