Original article from Kent Live
A teacher at a Maidstone primary school has been banned from teaching for at least two years after messaging a 16-year-old on Instagram.
William Kingsland was served with a prohibition order after a Teaching Regulation Agency hearing on April 20 this year.
A panel found him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and considered the private messages between Mr Kingsland and the 16-year-old, sent on January 25 2020, to be 'inherently sexually explicit'.
The 41-year-old had been a teacher at Harrietsham Church of England Primary School since September 1 2015.
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He notified the school when messages between himself and the 16-year-old emerged on social media, and resigned on March 10 2020 after the school conducted an internal investigation.
Mr Kingsland provided the screenshots of two of the messages to the school as part of their internal investigation, and though these messages were not dated, he confirmed they were sent on January 25 2020.
Evidence, including signed statements from former colleagues provided as part of the school’s disciplinary hearing, stated that Mr Kingsland had informed them that he had sent messages to the 16-year-old on that day.
The screenshots supplied by the teacher show that he wrote messages including "U got a gf or girls for fun?" or words to that effect and "Ur a hot lad and just interested. No need to be shy" or words to that effect.
Other messages were alleged and raised in the meeting, including those of a more explicit nature, but were not supported with screenshots.
Also in his statement, the 41-year-old teacher acknowledged that person he had messaged was 16-years-old as his Instagram profile stated this, and the person had told him this in private messages.
While the 16-year-old was not a student at Mr Kingsland's school and was an acquaintance he met at the gym, the panel "considered it inappropriate for a teacher to send such sexually explicit messages to anyone of that age."
They also found the private messages, which were shared widely on social media and posted on community pages, to be "inherently sexually explicit."
The allegations were "found proved" having been admitted and supported by evidence presented to the panel within the bundle.
As well as this, the panel found that Mr Kingsland failed to comply with the terms of the school’s ICT Acceptable Use Policy, Online Safety Policy and Code of Conduct, which include terms such as "maintain a professional level of conduct in [your] personal use of technology both on and off site" and "each employee has an individual responsibility to act in a manner which upholds the School’s interests and protects its reputation."
The copies of these three documents were not signed by Mr Kingsland but the panel considered that it was likely he was aware of them.
The panel also saw a signed file note from a parent of a pupil at the school, describing the messages as "very graphic and worrying", deciding that he "damaged" the school's reputation.
As a result, they thought prohibiting Mr Kingsland from teaching was "proportionate and appropriate" and described the "finding of sexual motivation" as a "significant factor" in forming this opinion.
However, they considered the fact that he had a "previously good history" and that the "incident was out of character", acknowledging that he reported his own actions to Harrietsham Church of England Primary School once he was aware that the messages had been shared on social media.
The panel decided that "the findings indicated a situation in which a review period of two years would be appropriate" and recommended this, as well as immediate prohibition, to the Secretary of State, who upheld this.
Mr Kingsland is now banned from teaching in England indefinitely and can only apply for the prohibition order to be set aside from April 27 2023.
This would not give him the automatic right to have the ban lifted, and instead a panel would meet to consider setting aside the order.