Bristol teacher Benjamin Bird asked boy for 'penis photo'

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Image caption,
Benjamin Bird worked at two schools in Bristol, the panel was told

A teacher who sent "inappropriate" messages to pupils for his own "sexual gratification" has been banned from teaching for life.

In one message, Benjamin Bird, 37, suggested a pupil should send to him a photograph of his penis, a professional conduct panel heard.

His actions amounted to "unacceptable professional conduct... which may bring the profession into disrepute".

Bird, who worked in the Bristol area, did not attend the hearing.

In messages to "Pupil E" he said: "Well maybe run the real thing past me for approval first! [wink emoticon]," referring to the boy's penis.

Later he sent an email address to the boy "...if you need to send any photos of it [wink emoticon]", adding: "I've seen many examples lol."

The hearing was told the communications with pupils and/or former pupils of a school where he had previously taught were of a "sexual nature and clearly flirtatious" towards the recipients.

"We believe that it is more likely than not that Mr Bird sent the messages in a way that was titillating for him and they were therefore sent for the purposes of sexual gratification," the panel concluded.

"However mild that gratification may have been, it amounts, in our view, to sexually motivated conduct."

The panel noted that while the allegations took place outside of the educational setting, it was satisfied the messages were capable of leading to pupils (current and past) to be exposed to and influenced by his behaviour in a harmful way.

In his mitigation the panel heard and accepted Mr Bird had a previously good history, with his former head describing him as having been a "hard-working and dynamic teacher", but she also suggested he had latterly "lost his way".

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