A teacher has been banned from the profession after bombarding a student with emails containing kisses and personal photographs, and encouraging him to drink alcohol.
Laura Martland, 39, a science teacher at Penketh High School in Warrington, Cheshire, was dismissed for misconduct in September 2021 after she was found to have had an unprofessional relationship with the student.
A Teacher Regulation Agency panel found she had sent multiple messages containing personal photographs and kisses to the pupil, who cannot be named for legal reasons, outside of school hours.
It was also discovered that Miss Martland sent a “package” of emails on May 28, 2021 that appeared to encourage the student to consume alcohol.
In other emails, the professor provided relationship advice to the student, one of them sent as late as 12:29 a.m.
Another message sent at 10:29 p.m. on 7 May 2021 included the words: ‘But not worrying is a reasonable response! Xxxx.’
Science teacher Laura Martland was found to have had an “unprofessional relationship” with a student, including sending emails containing personal photographs and appearing to encourage the student to consume alcohol.
Miss Martland worked at Penketh High School from March 2007 until she was dismissed for misconduct in September 2021.
She did not attend the panel hearing, which was held in her absence and reported its findings this week.
Allegations relating to Miss Martland’s frequent contact with ‘Student A’ came to light after being reported by a person named ‘Witness A’ on June 10, 2021.
Witness A requested copies of emails sent by Miss Martland, in which she felt there was “more to do”, after they were sent to her pasted into a Word document.
The witness told the panel that during the Covid-19 lockdown it was more common for pupils to communicate with teachers by email outside of school, but said the school had put in place clear guidance for proper communication.
Miss Martland was suspended on June 11, 2021 pending an investigation. Her access to his emails demonstrated that she had withheld information about her relationship with Student A, nor reported the disclosures to the school’s safeguarding team in accordance with school policy.
The misconduct panel found that the science teacher had demonstrated “unacceptable professional conduct and conduct likely to bring the profession into disrepute.”
A banning order was imposed on him, banning him indefinitely from teaching at any school, sixth form, college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England.
The ban is indefinite but can be reviewed after five years. Miss Martland will be able to apply for the order to be set aside from January 25, 2029.
The panel report states: ‘The email exchanges were noted to have taken place over several months, initially being school related but over time becoming personal in nature.
“Between March and June 2021, the emails covered a number of topics, including personal matters shared by both Miss Martland and Student A. Worryingly, Student A had made disclosures to Miss Martland that included alcohol consumption. by minors”.
The panel heard from Student A that they began communicating by email with Miss Martland about work, but as time went on, they began to discuss personal things.
Student A claimed that they emailed each other every day and that “there was never really a break in the emails,” and told the panel that they recognized that the relationship had become “unprofessional.”
In its report, the panel said: ‘Miss Martland did not take advantage of the many opportunities she had to report on safeguarding issues in the appropriate way.
‘Instead, he continued to collude and conceal inappropriate discussions about personal topics, consistently failing to bring exchanges to purely academic matters, reestablish the teacher-student relationship, or refer personal concerns to appropriate school colleagues.
“Therefore, the Panel concluded that Ms. Martland’s behaviors indicated a lack of professional knowledge and self-awareness.”
Miss Martland was dismissed from her position at Penketh High School in Warrington, Cheshire for misconduct in September 2021.
He added: ‘Miss Martland had not participated in the TRA proceedings in any meaningful way. In particular, the panel did not receive any evidence from Miss Martland and therefore she did not demonstrate any understanding or remorse for her actions.’
Miss Martland’s misconduct was considered to be of a serious nature and fell far below the standards expected of the profession.
The report concluded: “Consequently, the panel was satisfied that Miss Martland was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and conduct likely to bring the profession into disrepute.”
In a statement, The Challenge Academy Trust, which runs Penketh High School, said: “Laura Martland started working at Penketh High School in March 2007.
‘In June 2021, the academy identified a serious safeguarding concern in relation to Miss Martland, who was subsequently suspended from her position. As safeguarding was the academy’s first priority, a full disciplinary investigation was launched.
‘Miss Martland was dismissed in September 2021 following a disciplinary hearing.
“In accordance with its legal obligations, the academy has contacted the designated local authority officer throughout this case and referred the matter to both the Disclosure and Prohibition Service and the Teaching Regulation Agency.”