May 2013

Teacher banned for life after child abuse images conviction

A NOTTS teacher has been banned from the classroom for life after being convicted of possessing child pornography.

Matthew Cresswell, 24, had just joined Toot Hill School in Bingham on a temporary contract when the matters came to light.

He was sacked immediately and appeared in court last year.

A Department for Education Teaching Agency conduct hearing was held on Friday, May 10, to decide whether he deserved further punishment. Mr Cresswell did not attend.

The hearing was told that he pleaded guilty to seven counts of making an indecent photo of a child and one count of possessing seven indecent images.

He was given a community order, including participation on an internet sex offenders’ treatment programme and told to sign the sex offenders’ register for five years.

Mr Cresswell downloaded the images in June 2011, the panel was told. They were described as “level one”, the least serious level referring to nudity or erotic posing with no sexual activity.

Mr Cresswell admitted to police that he had a sexual interest in boys aged between ten and 11.

After the one-day hearing, the panel retired to consider what punishment they felt was needed.

A report by Paul Heathcote, from the Teaching Agency, said that Mr Cresswell “totally disregarded” his duty as a teacher, adding: “Making or possession of an indecent photograph or pseudo-photography of a child is illegal and regarded in UK society as morally unacceptable.

“For these reasons any involvement in child pornography by a teacher raises the question whether the public interest demands that he be prevented from having contact with children.

“Any conviction for child pornography offences by a teacher is a matter of grave concern because it involves such a fundamental breach of trust that parents should be able to place in those who have care of their children.”

The panel served a prohibition order without limit of time on him, meaning he cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England.

The decision was backed by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

He said: “Mr Cresswell has demonstrated a serious lack of professional judgement and lack of respect for the dignity of children. I agree with the panel’s recommendation.”

Mr Cresswell can appeal to the High Court within 28 days.

A spokesman for Toot Hill School said: “We can confirm that we took immediate and appropriate action towards a member of staff after three weeks of employment in September 2011, following concerns raised by external agencies regarding his conduct outside of his employment.

“The member of staff in question had been previously employed in a Derbyshire school and all appropriate safeguarding checks had been made prior to employment.