Beds, Herts & Bucks

Biggleswade teacher banned over emails to pupils

Stratton Upper School, Biggleswade Image copyright Google
Image caption Richard Merrett was head of year 13 and a sixth form coordinator

A teacher who bombarded four female pupils with inappropriate messages, including one saying "nice pins", has been banned from the profession.

Richard Merrett, 30, told a girl at Stratton Upper School in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, she had a "beautiful body" and discussed his personal life.

The head of year 13 told another pupil about a dream involving naked women.

A panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership prohibited him from teaching indefinitely.

The school was alerted in January last year when the parents of one girl found message exchanges between Mr Merrett and their daughter on Facebook.

One message read: "A 9 men tent is huge!! How can they have sex knowing you guys are in the tent?"

Covert correspondence

It was then discovered he had emailed the girl and three others, and failed to report that one of them, "Pupil B", was self-harming.

He commented on her appearance, telling her she had "nice pins which many girls would die for", and a "beautiful body".

Referring to a dream he had the previous night, he told Pupil B: "Tell me if I end up pouncing on you in the middle of the night again : ) hopefully I won't be dreaming of any naked 40 year old women."

He sent Pupil C inappropriate emails about alcohol and asked Pupil D about her weekend plans, the panel heard.

Mr Merrett, who was also a sixth form coordinator, admitted sending the inappropriate emails, failing to maintain professional boundaries and failing to report a safeguarding issue.

He claimed there were no sexual motives in his words.

The correspondence was covert, with emails sent during the evening when his wife was out of the room, the panel said, and some of the pupils were vulnerable.

The panel said "significant factors" in reaching their decision were the excessive volume of emails to pupils' personal accounts and the clear sense of guilt felt by Mr Merrett when he deleted a file containing emails with "Pupil B".

He can apply for the order to be set aside in July 2019 at the earliest. He resigned in April last year and said he had no intention of teaching again.

He was initially investigated by police but the matter was not taken any further.