Norwich teacher banned from teaching after sending topless photo to former pupil

Notre Dame High School, Norwich
Notre Dame High School, Norwich Credit: Evelyn Simak/Geograph

A teacher has been banned from teaching for sending explicit messages and photos of her exposing her breasts to a former pupil.

Gemma Cooper, 44, who had taught at Notre Dame High School in Norwich for 13 years, admitted that she accepted a student's friend request on Facebook and developed an inappropriate online relationship.

The teachers' disciplinary panel heard how the teacher was arrested in 2018 for alleged sexual offences in relation to her conduct with the pupil but the investigation was closed as they could not confirm if a crime had been committed.

However, in 2019 when the school began an internal investigation, the English teacher was sacked from the secondary school and sixth form.

The Teaching Regulation Agency panel, which heard the case was told how Ms Cooper had accepted a Facebook friend request from the ex-pupil - who had left the school several months earlier - and the pupil sent messages to Ms Cooper of a polite yet friendly nature.

However these messages soon became sexualised and Ms Cooper admitted to responding to them in a similar tone.

She admitted to sending explicit messages and sending "inappropriate images" to the ex-student, including topless pictures of herself.

Ms Cooper admitted to the panel that the exchange of messages "quickly became out of hand".

Although Ms Cooper admitted that her behaviour had shown "awful judgement", she said she was not aware that the ex-pupil was under the age of 18.

The panel said that her behaviour was "at the less serious end of the spectrum" as it did not progress past online contact and they were satisfied that it was a one off incident that she would not repeat.

The panel therefore decided that due to her "unacceptable professional conduct", she should be prohibited from teaching.

She has 28 days to appeal the decision and can apply for a review to become a teacher again in two years time.

A spokesperson from the St John the Baptist Catholic Multi Academy Trust - who oversees Notre Dame High School - said: "Notre Dame High School always gives the safeguarding of children the highest priority. We take any accusation seriously and will always take appropriate advice and action. We will make no further comment on this case."

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