Teacher banned indefinitely after starting sexual relationship with pupil he called his 'little puppet'

A teacher started a sexual relationship with a former pupil he called his ‘little puppet’, a disciplinary hearing has heard.

St Bede's Voluntary Catholic Academy in Scunthorpe

Mark Thompson, 31, who taught at St Bede’s Voluntary Catholic Academy in Scunthorpe is now banned from teaching for life following a hearing into his conduct by the Teaching Regulation Authority.

Thompson, who was employed as a maths teacher at the school, described the former pupil as his “little puppet” in messages sent on social media.

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The hearing heard he first approached the girl on Snapchat in late 2018.

Within a week of exchanging messages, the hearing heard the conversation and photos sent became sexual in nature and they began having sex intermittently over the next few months.

The pupil, referred to as Pupil A, who bravely gave evidence to the panel, said she had “liked” Mr Thompson at the time, but looking back now “hated him”.

She described how he made her use language which left her uncomfortable, such as regularly addressing him as “Sir”.

The hearing heard he instructed her to bring drugs to their meet-ups which he urged her to keep as their “little secret”.

The academy launched an investigation in 2019 during which Mr Thompson denied having any kind of relationship with the girl. He resigned from his position in September, and the school referred the matter to the TRA.

Mr Thompson later admitted a sexual relationship had taken place, but denied he had used the words the girl claimed or that drugs had been mentioned.

The panel praised the former pupil’s bravery in appearing before them to give evidence, providing on what they described as honest answers on details which were embarrassing for her.

Mr Thompson did not attend the hearing. He had previously complained about health problems that were caused by the investigation.

The TRA ruled the former teacher had fallen far short of the standards required, and his action could damage the public’s perception of educators.

The panel found he had committed sexual misconduct, abused his position of trust, and dishonestly covered the deeds up.

Although the pupil was no longer attending St Bede’s Academy at the time of the encounters, Mr Thompson emphasised the teacher/student power dynamic by asking her to call him “sir”.

The panel added his witness statement “demonstrated a categorical lack of insight into his actions, and nor did it suggest appreciation as to how his behaviour may have affected Pupil A, his colleagues at the Academy or the wider community.”

It said his behaviour was at the “most extreme end of the seriousness spectrum”.

Mr Thompson has now been prohibited from teaching indefinitely at any school, sixth form college or any place of education in England.

He will not have the right to apply for his teaching status to be restored.

A spokesperson for St Thérèse of Lisieux Catholic Multi Academy Trust, which runs St Bede’s, said: “Safeguarding and the safety of all pupils within the St Thérèse of Lisieux CMAT is of paramount importance.

"Safer recruitment processes including enhanced DBS checks, full work history and references are carried out for all members of staff as part of HR and safeguarding procedures.

“All safeguarding concerns are dealt with immediately and robustly in line with the Trust’s safeguarding policies.”