Teacher reprimanded after looking at sex sites during lessons

IPSWICH: A high school teacher has been reprimanded for unprofessional behaviour after pupils caught him looking at sexual sites during lessons.

John Payne, former head of food technology at Chantry High School, was found guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct” at a disciplinary hearing of the General Teaching Council, his professional body, yesterday.

This comes after three year eight pupils saw him using a school laptop to look at sites “of an inappropriate and sexual nature” during a food technology lesson on June 14 last year.

The panel stopped short of banning him from teaching altogether, saying he showed “insight into his unacceptable behaviour” and was genuinely sorry for what he had done.

The GTC added: “We have concluded that a reprimand adequately protects the reputation of the teaching profession and the public interest.”

Mr Payne worked at the Mallard Way school from September 1998 until July 2010, when he was sacked after pupils reported what they had seen.

The disciplinary hearing found that between January and June 2010, he had used his school e-mail address to send and receive messages “of a sexual nature” during school hours, looked at websites of an “inappropriate and sexual nature”, and allowed his screen to be seen by three young pupils during a lesson.

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The findings also said: “We are satisfied that in acting as he did, Mr Payne’s conduct fell short of the standard expected of a registered teacher and was behaviour which involved a breach of the standards of propriety expected of the profession.

“Mr Payne’s behaviour occurred in school time and using school equipment.”

His actions breached the council’s code of conduct, and was found to have taken place over a relatively long period of time, posing the danger that he could have continued if it had not been discovered.

County councillor Graham Newman, portfolio holder for children, schools and young people, said: “Safeguarding of pupils is always a top priority.

“We are confident that Chantry High School and Sixth Form followed the correct procedures and have carried out all the investigations necessary to resolve the situation. As a result of investigations this teacher was dismissed.

“Might I take this opportunity to urge pupils of any school or their parents to always report any suspicions of activity of this type to the head teacher.”