Beckfoot School Bingley: Teacher at leading Yorkshire academy sent 500 'personal' emails to pupil and shared marriage troubles with her

A former teacher at a successful comprehensive in Yorkshire has been banned from the profession after sending inappropriate personal messages to a pupil.

Matthew Kelly, 48, taught at Beckfoot School in Bingley, near Bradford, from 2013 until allegations came to light in 2020, and was promoted to assistant faculty head. The school, which leads an academy chain in the city, has an Outstanding rating from Ofsted.

Last month the government’s Teaching Regulation Agency held a hearing to decide on Mr Kelly’s future after West Yorkshire Police closed a criminal investigation into his conduct without bringing charges. The decision of the panel was published on December 22.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Kelly was not present at the hearing, which went ahead in his absence, and did not send representation.

Beckfoot School, BingleyBeckfoot School, Bingley
Beckfoot School, Bingley

He was found to be guilty of unacceptable professional conduct between 2019 and 2020, when he sent 560 emails of a personal nature to the teenager, a large number of which were sent at weekend, during school holidays or in the evenings.

One message stated that he could ‘not turn the radio on without being reminded of you’ and included a screenshot of Heart 80s playing the song ‘Hard Habit to Break’ by Chicago.

There were also references to loving the pupil ‘more than anything in the universe’ and wanting to ‘spend forever with her’. There was one ‘inappropriate’ three-hour exchange and other conversations in which he discussed his personal life, alcohol consumption and marital difficulties.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He sent the girl a photograph of a Lottery ticket, telling her he would share the jackpot with her if he won, and also made Google searches for her social media accounts. It was deemed that he had been under the influence of alcohol during some of the exchanges.

Although Mr Kelly was found to have downloaded Category 6 images of children on a device that was examined by police, they were deemed not to be illegal and so he was not prosecuted.

In July 2021 he admitted some of the allegations, but did not respond to others.

The offending was reported in January 2020 by two sixth formers at Beckfoot who knew about the emails, and the following month Mr Kelly resigned following an internal investigation by the school. He was interviewed by police in March.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Kelly told the investigation that he had been asked to support the girl due to personal circumstances, but was not told how to proceed other than to check in regularly with her. He said he was often concerned about her welfare, and that he had apologised to her after the ‘drunken’ email thread one weekend.

The panel did not consider that the situation merited out-of-hours contact between a teacher and a pupil.

In respect of the images found on Mr Kelly’s hard drive, police concluded that they were not illegal, but had been flagged to them because they could indicate an interest in the sexual abuse of children.

The panel found Mr Kelly guilty and imposed the lifetime probition order with no review period despite hearing mitigation that he would be ‘devastated’ if unable to teach again.

He is now banned from teaching indefinitely in any school, sixth form college, children’s home or youth accommodation and cannot apply for his eligibility to be reinstated.