Disgraced teacher banned for relationship with teen
A borough teacher has been struck off after admitting to having a 'sexually motivated' relationship with a former student just weeks after she finished her GCSEs.
Peter Sugden, 36, taught at Bedford High School in Leigh from September 2012 before resigning in December 2015 in light of the scandal.
The Teacher Misconduct Panel, run by the National College for Teaching and Leadership, have moved to ban Mr Sugden after he admitted to passionately kissing the girl, who was just fifteen when she left the school roll in June 2013.
Mr Sugden was also found to have had an “inappropriate” relationship with another pupil just as she left high school.
The former science teacher, who is also married, was found to be discussing complications with marriage with the student from his personal email account prior to the affair.
The report says: “Mr Sugden developed a relationship with Former Pupil A shortly after she completed her GCSEs which only began, and rapidly developed, as a result of the teacher-pupil relationship established when Former Pupil A was still on the school roll.
“The panel noted that Former Pupil A was 15 years of age when she and her year group were removed from the school roll at the end of June 2013. Having carefully considered the evidence before them, the panel concluded that on the balance of probabilities, Mr Sugden’s actions in respect of Former Pupil A were sexually motivated.
“It has been found proven that Mr Sugden corresponded with Former Pupil A via his personal email account, that he arranged to meet with Former Pupil A on more than one occasion and, by his own admission, passionately kissed Former Pupil A.”
A teacher misconduct hearing panel heard evidence about how Mr Sugden had visited the pupil’s house and met up with her outside school.
The pair had exchanged emails via his personal account, which was explicitly against the school’s policy. Allegations that Mr Sugden engaged in sexual activity with the girl were denied and later dropped.
The disgraced teacher was arrested in 2015 and bailed, but no charges were brought forward due to a lack of evidence.
A CPS spokesperson said: “After conducting a review of a file of evidence provided to us by Greater Manchester Police, we decided that no charges should be brought in the case as there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.”
The self-professed “family” man was also found to have had an “inappropriate” relationship with another pupil just as she also left high school after finishing her exams, although this was not deemed as sexually motivated.
Mr Sugden, who was not present at the hearing on May 25, is now “settled in family life”, allegedly putting them as a “priority”.
However the panel was not satisfied that Mr Sugden has demonstrated the appropriate level of remorse.
Jayne Millions, decision maker on the panel, wrote: “Whilst Mr Sugden confirmed early on in the investigation into his actions that he formed an inappropriate relationship with Former Pupil A and accepted that it was morally wrong, the panel has been provided with insufficient evidence in its mind that reflects that Mr Sugden has shown remorse for his actions.
“The advice indicates that there are behaviours that, if proven, would mitigate against a review period being recommended.
“One of these behaviours includes serious sexual misconduct, e.g. where the act was sexually motivated and resulted in or had the potential to result in, harm to a person or persons, particularly where the individual has used their professional position to influence or exploit a person.”
Ms Millions reasoned that Mr Sugden failed to treat pupils with “dignity” and did not “build relationships rooted in mutual respect”.
It was also ruled that the former teacher failed to observe “proper boundaries appropriate to a teacher’s professional position” and as a result his conduct fell significantly short of the standards expected of all teachers.
Mr Sugden has been banned indefinitely but can apply for the prohibition order to be removed no sooner than June 2022, five years from the hearing.