Teacher banned after 'inappropriate contact' with teenaged pupils

Wayland Academy in Thetford

Former teacher Mark Barrett, who worked at Wayland Academy in Watton (pictured) for four years until 2019, contacted pupils via Facebook Messenger - Credit: TEN Group/PA Wire

A teacher whose "inappropriate" behaviour drove a pupil to withdraw from her school has been banned from the profession following a misconduct hearing.

Mark Barrett, who previously taught in Swaffham and Watton, was investigated by the Teaching Regulation Agency over a host of allegations around his behaviour while teaching at the two schools.

These included: 

  • Stroking the hair of a pupil after she had straightened it
  • Asking a pupil out for a meal and offering her lifts home
  • Contacting multiple female pupils via social media - including making comments about their physical appearance
  • Making inappropriate comments to a female pupil about tan lines on her return from holiday

The panel heard how Mr Barrett, now aged 47, had lost his job at Nicholas Hamond Academy in Swaffham in 2013 following allegations of inappropriate behaviour from an individual pupil.

This allegations include Mr Barrett making comments about tan lines to the pupil, asking her out for drinks and a meal and stroking her hair - with the panel told the interactions made the pupil feel "awkward and uncomfortable".

However, two years later, he started working at Wayland Academy in Watton, where he held a role for four years.

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During this time, he was accused of inappropriate behaviour by three further pupils - centring around contacts made over Instagram and Facebook.

While two of the three accusers had left the school at the point of contact, all three were aged under 18 - and one was left to feel so uncomfortable that she withdrew from the school.

The panel was told Mr Barrett had made inappropriate physical contact with this pupil, in which he touched and rubbed her back - something the former teacher denied.

However, after hearing statements from more than one pupil the panel judged that it was most likely the incident had happened.

In recommending Mr Barrett be banned from returning to the profession, the panel wrote: "The panel particularly noted the significant impact on Pupil A, who withdrew from the school following the allegation of inappropriate contact."

The panel wrote: "Mr Barrett has consistently demonstrated a failure to change his practices, despite being dismissed for similar behaviours in the past."

Mr Barrett can not apply to restore his eligibility to teach but can appeal the decision through the High Court.

Both schools were contacted for comment.