Female science teacher, 39, who bombarded pupil with personal emails, encouraged them to drink alcohol and sent personal photos of herself is banned from the classroom

A teacher has been banned from the profession after bombarding a student with emails with kisses and personal photos, and encouraging them to drink alcohol.

Laura Martland, 39, a science teacher at Penketh High School in Warrington, Cheshire, was sacked for misconduct in September 2021 after being found to have engaged in an unprofessional relationship with the student.

A Teacher Regulation Agency panel found her to have sent multiple messages containing personal pictures and kisses to the pupil, who cannot be named for legal reasons, outside of school hours.

Miss Martland was also found to have sent a ‘bundle’ of emails on May 28 2021 which appeared to encourage the student to consume alcohol.

Further emails saw the teacher provide advice to the student on relationships, with one sent as late as 00.29am.

Another message sent at 10.29pm on May 7 2021 included the words: ‘But not caring is a reasonable response! Xxxx.’

Science teacher Laura Martland was found to have engaged in an ‘unprofessional relationship’ with a pupil, including sending emails with personal pictures and appearing to encourage the student to consume alcohol

Miss Martland worked at Penketh High School from March 2007 until she was sacked for misconduct in September 2021.

She did not attend the panel hearing, which was held in her absence and reported its findings this week.

The allegations relating to Miss Martland’s frequent contact with ‘Pupil A’ came to light after being reported by a person referred to as ‘Witness A’ on June 10 2021.

Witness A requested copies of emails sent by Miss Martland, to which she felt there was ‘more to’, after being sent them pasted into a word document. 

The witness told the panel that during the Covid-19 lockdown it was more common for pupils to communicate with teachers via email outside of school, but said there was clear guidance implemented by the school for appropriate communication. 

Miss Martland was suspended on June 11 2021 pending an investigation. Access to her emails proved she had withheld information about her relationship with Pupil A, nor reported the disclosures to the school’s safeguarding team in line with school policy.

The science teacher was found by the misconduct panel to have demonstrated ‘unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute’.

She was handed a prohibition order, banning her indefinitely from teaching in any school, sixth form, college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England. 

The ban is indefinite but can be reviewed after five years. Miss Martland will be able to apply for the order to be set aside from January 25 2029.

The panel’s report states: ‘It was noted that the email exchanges had taken place over a number of months, initially they were school related, but developed to a personal nature over time.

‘Between March to June 2021, the emails covered a number of topics including personal matters shared by both Miss Martland and Pupil A. Of concern, Pupil A had made disclosures to Miss Martland which included underage drinking.’

The panel heard from Pupil A that they started communicating by email with Miss Martland about work, but as time went on, they started discussing personal things. 

Pupil A stated that they would email each other every day, and ‘there wasn’t really ever a break in the emails’, and told the panel they recognised the relationship had become ‘unprofessional.’

In its report, the panel noted: ‘Miss Martland failed to take the many opportunities she had to report safeguarding issues in the appropriate way. 

‘Instead, she continued to collude in and conceal inappropriate discussions of personal issues, consistently failing to draw the exchanges back to purely academic matters, reset the relationship to one of teacher-pupil, or refer personal concerns to the appropriate school colleagues. 

‘Therefore, the Panel found that Miss Martland’s behaviours indicated a lack of professional insight and self-awareness.’

Miss Martland was sacked from her role at Penketh High School in Warrington, Cheshire for misconduct in September 2021

Miss Martland was sacked from her role at Penketh High School in Warrington, Cheshire for misconduct in September 2021

It added: ‘Miss Martland had not engaged with the TRA proceedings in a meaningful way. In particular, the panel was not provided with any evidence from Miss Martland and therefore she did not demonstrate any insight or remorse for her actions.’

Miss Martland’s misconduct was found to be of a serious nature, falling significantly short of the standards expected of the profession.

The report concluded: ‘Accordingly, the panel was satisfied that Miss Martland was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.’

In a statement, The Challenge Academy Trust, which runs Penketh High School, said: ‘Laura Martland commenced employment at Penketh High School in March 2007.

‘In June 2021, the academy identified a serious safeguarding concern relating to Miss Martland, who was subsequently suspended from duty. With safeguarding being the academy’s first priority, a full disciplinary investigation was launched.

‘Miss Martland was dismissed in September 2021 following a disciplinary hearing.

‘In line with its statutory obligations, the academy liaised with the local authority designated officer throughout this case and referred the matter to both the Disclosure and Barring Service and Teaching Regulation Agency.’

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