Doncaster teacher’s life ban for sex with pupil, 17

Luke Atkinson
Luke Atkinson

A PE teacher at a Doncaster school has been given a lifetime classroom ban after taking a teenage student to a hotel room following a night out clubbing.

Luke Atkinson, who was a teacher at Balby Carr Community Sports College, was recommended for a five-year ban by a disciplinary body – but the then Education Secretary Michael Gove over-ruled it and prohibited him from teaching indefinitely.

The 25-year-old started work in the PE department at Balby Carr in 2010 but by summer 2012 his career was effectively in ruins because of his one-night stand with the 17-year-old girl, who cannot be identified.

Atkinson failed to attend the Professional Misconduct Panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership in Coventry last month and his request for it to be heard in private was refused.

The hearing was told he lied about taking the girl to a hotel but the panel saw CCTV footage of them entering the premises together.

The girl, now 19, reluctantly gave evidence against him by video link and refused to have him prosecuted after a police investigation.

His downfall began on a Saturday night in June 2012 when he met the teenage girl in The Priory nightclub in Lazarus Court, where she was out with a group of friends.

In the early hours he took her to a hotel room where they ‘engaged in sexual activity’, a misconduct hearing found.

After a disciplinary hearing in November that year, following a police investigation, he was sacked from Balby Carr.

The misconduct panel said the girl was a ‘very credible’ witness and found the allegation of engaging in sexual activity with her proven.

They also found Atkinson guilty of failing to co-operate with the police investigation into a safeguarding matter, and attempting to mislead those responsible for investigating the incident by lying about booking into the hotel.

The panel found his behaviour amounted to unacceptable professional conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

The panel recommended a prohibition order should last for a minimum of five years because the girl had engaged willingly in sexual activity and was above the age of consent at the time and it was an isolated incident which had not been pre-planned.

But Alan Meyrick, on behalf of the Education Secretary, said there was insufficient evidence that Atkinson had expressed remorse.

He added: “Although he was a young teacher at the time, his behaviour was deliberate and he would have had no doubt that it was a serious breach of the standards that are expected of a teacher.

“His behaviour is so serious that a review period is not in the public interest.

“This means that Mr Atkinson is prohibited from teaching indefinitely...and shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.”