Hilary White

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British teacher convicted for child porn allowed to go back to classroom

Hilary White
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LONDON, June 7, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Conservative Education Secretary is under fire for allowing a primary school teacher who had been caught using child pornography back into the classroom.

Geoffrey Bettley, 36, was first suspended then dismissed from his position as a religious education teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Menston, West Yorkshire, in December 2010 after police found nearly 200 “child abuse” images on his computer.

Bettley was placed on the Sexual Offenders registry and cautioned by police.

But a professional conduct panel, convened by the National College of Teaching and Leadership, has ruled that Bettley should be allowed to return to teaching, saying he “does not represent a risk to children and young people.”

The decision garnered the approval of a senior official of the Department of Education

In response, Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove has pledged that the rules for assessing threats to children will be revised.

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, later called for Gove to explain to the House of Commons why the man had been approved to return to teaching, saying that many parents would be “deeply disturbed” at the decision.

“I’m sure you will appreciate many parents will be deeply disturbed someone who has been convicted of downloading child porn should be allowed to teach again,” Davies said.

“Can we have a statement from the Education Secretary so he can explain what on earth he was thinking about when he allowed this person to teach again?” Davies asked.

Gove said that the department will review the rules but that any changes made will not be retrospective, meaning that the decision about Bettley will stand.

MP Robert Buckland, told the Daily Telegraph that he welcomed Gove’s announcement, but added, “There is a very legitimate public concern that cases are being dealt with so leniently.”

Bettley, he said, “should not be allowed to teach or be anywhere near children. I have grave concerns about this decision, it is an affront to common sense and to parents everywhere.”

Currently, the Department of Education uses the COPINE scale rating system to judge the seriousness of any uses of child pornography. The professional conduct panel said that Bettley’s offence placed him on the lowest rung of the scale. The panel said that Bettley’s was an example of “unacceptable professional misconduct,” but that his “excellent” record as a teacher meant he “should be allowed to continue teaching in future.”

The Telegraph quoted a DoE spokesman saying, “We want to ensure that in future anyone cautioned or prosecuted for offences related to child pornography is prohibited from teaching. We are taking steps to revise the guidance the independent panel uses to make a decision on whether a teacher should be barred.” 

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