Married Swindon maths teacher banned after sex chats with pupil

A MATHS teacher who struck up an inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable pupil whilst teaching at a Swindon secondary school has been banned from the profession for the rest of his life.

Oliver Shakles engaged in conversations of a sexual nature with the child, including talking with them about sex positions, and specifically set up a separate email address so his wife would not find out they were in contact.

Shakles, now 27, admitted that he would imagine having sex with the pupil on his school desk, made comments about what he would like to do to their body, and had asked the child to send pictures of them “looking pretty”.

Regulators found the St Joseph’s Catholic College teacher’s behaviour brought the profession into disrepute and that he was guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct”.

He was barred from teaching for life and will not have the opportunity for it to be restored.

‘Pupils must be able to view teachers as role models’

The professional conduct panel was held in secret last month at the request of the disgraced teacher, with the panel deeming it not “in the interests of justice or in the public interest” to be heard publicly. But the details can now be reported after the Swindon Advertiser obtained a copy of the meeting’s summary.

The three-person panel took into account the “uniquely influential role that teachers can hold in pupils’ lives and the fact that pupils must be able to view teachers as role models”, and that the “conduct could potentially damage the public’s perception of a teacher”.

The meeting, held on March 24, heard that Shakles worked at the Ocotal Way school between September 2017 and November 2020.

It had heard that the teacher had been told to limit his conversations with the student, known only as Pupil A, to five minutes per day.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: St Joseph's Catholic College, on Ocotal WaySt Joseph’s Catholic College, on Ocotal Way

But other individuals had reported seeing the pupil sat on his desk, saying “it didn’t feel right”, and they had been talking before the school day, during breaks, lunches and after school.

The panel said that the teacher should have “appreciated the safeguarding risks”, and that “his frequent one to one contact with Pupil A… without alerting his colleagues to this issue indicated that Mr Shakles developed an inappropriate relationship with Pupil A”.

On another occasion, one student said that Pupil A spoke like they were “in a relationship with Mr Shakles”.

‘Lapse of judgement’

During the investigation, the teacher admitted discussing aspects of his personal life, including his family, wife and son, and exchanged personal contact details with Pupil A.

He referred to this as a “lapse of judgement”. But the pair stayed in contact by email and on Instagram, mostly by direct message, and he would ask for photos of them “looking pretty”.

In an investigatory meeting, he stated the conversations “shifted to be more explicit, more inappropriate. Shifted to talking about how [they] like each other, attracted to each other and sort of fantasies that [they] had, things that [they] would like to do to each other”.

He also told Pupil A to keep their conversations a secret, adding the pupil should delete his messages from their “deleted box as well as the inbox”.

No remorse

It was heard that Shakles had been issued with a final written warning about his conduct, and also with a direct instruction not to have any contact with Pupil A, which he ignored.

But other than signing a statement of agreed facts and admitting a raft of allegations, he “has not conveyed any insight as to the impact of his actions on Pupil A, Pupil A’s family and the school community”.

“Furthermore, he has expressed no remorse for his actions.”

The panel concluded that the “repetition” of Shakles’ behaviour meant there was a “real risk” of this repeating itself should he be allowed to teach again, and recommended to the Education Secretary that he be banned for life.

Taking a decision on his behalf last week, Alan Meyrick, chief executive of the Teaching Regulation Agency, said that a prohibition order is “proportionate and in the public interest”, whilst allowing no review period is “necessary to maintain public confidence”.

‘Fully support the prohibition order’

In a statement, St Joseph’s Catholic College said that they “fully support” the prohibition order and that they “worked closely” with both the borough council and police.

Helen Peace, director of finance and operations, said: “We place the safety of our students above all else, which is why we swiftly dealt with this matter as soon as it came to light.

“We worked closely with Swindon Borough Council’s Safeguarding team and Wiltshire Police, in line with our safeguarding policy, throughout the investigations and imposed the strongest possible sanctions against the former member of staff that were available to us.

“We fully support the prohibition order, which was made after we referred the matter to the DBS for consideration by the Teaching Regulation Agency.”

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