A TEACHER who sent vile and unwanted sexual messages to a pupil has been banned from the profession indefinitely.

Craig Ward was working as a PE teacher at Padgate Academy, which at the time was named University Academy, when the messages were sent.

They referenced sexual activity he wished them to engage in, while he also gave the pupil unsupervised lifts in his car, encouraged him to drink vodka while in the car and asked him to buy items from a shop for him.

The now 36-year-old was the subject of a professional conduct panel hearing by the Teaching Regulation Agency over allegations that he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

He was subsequently prohibited from teaching in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home with no entitlement to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.

The panel considered the allegation that Ward failed to maintain appropriate boundaries with a pupil by sending multiple messages of an inappropriate and sexual nature on Facebook Messenger.

These messages included him stating how he wanted to perform sex acts on the pupil.

A final allegation was that his conduct was sexually motivated.

A document prepared following the conclusion of the hearing states that Ward admits the facts of the allegations and that they amount to unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

Ward was working a PE teacher at the Insall Road school as on January 1, 2013, when it was renamed University Academy. In July 2017, a report was made to Cheshire Police regarding messages sent by Ward to the pupil.

University Academy carried out an investigation in September and October 2018 following the conclusion of the police investigation.

Ward attended an investigatory interview in October 2018, but resigned from his post in January 2019 – the day before he was due to attend a disciplinary hearing.

The Teaching Regulation Agency hearing heard how Pupil A stated in an interview for the school’s disciplinary investigation that Ward had initiated the contact, initially regarding football and schoolwork.

The subject of the messages then developed into requests for Pupil A to pick up items from the shop for him, before the messages became sexual.

Padgate Academy, which at the time was called University Academy (Image: Google Maps)

Padgate Academy, which at the time was called University Academy (Image: Google Maps)

Ward, who won £50,000 when he appeared on Channel 4’s Million Pound Drop in 2011, also sent messages in the early hours of the morning and during school holidays.

After receiving the first sexual messages, the pupil stated that he was ‘shocked, confused, did not know how to respond and just wanted the messages to stop’.

Pupil A described taking half an hour to respond because he was so shocked and was debating whether to respond, fearing that if he did not, Ward might keep messaging him.

The report states: “It is clear to the panel that the manner in which Ward fostered a relationship with Pupil A, sending messages containing explicit language, late at night and early in the morning, enabled him to develop a relationship that was more akin to a friendship.

“Similarly, asking Pupil A to buy items from the shop, transporting Pupil A alone in his car and encouraging him to consume alcohol, while not inherently sexual, all formed part of a pattern of behaviour that blurred the boundaries of the teacher-pupil relationship.

“This enabled him to continue contact with Pupil A after he had concluded his studies.

“It was apparent that Mr Ward then sought to develop the relationship into a sexual one.”

In considering whether Ward’s conduct may bring the profession into disrepute, the report states: “The panel was satisfied that the conduct of Ward fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession.

“It was of concern to the panel that Ward pursued Pupil A for sexual gratification or a sexual relationship, notwithstanding Pupil A had sent a clear message declining Ward’s advances.

“Ward ignored this and continued sending him unwanted messages and also requested Pupil A keep the messages between themselves.

“Ward demonstrated a complete disregard for the right of Pupil A not to be harassed by someone who had been entrusted not to abuse his professional position.”

The report adds: “Pupil A described feeling uncomfortable about telling anyone what had happened, because he was concerned that he would not be believed that a teacher had acted in this way and that he is anxious about meeting Ward around his hometown.”

At the school’s disciplinary hearing, Ward admitted that he had made a serious error of judgment and expressed an apology for his actions.

The report states that in sanctioning the prohibition order, the panel was of the view that it was both ‘proportionate and appropriate’.

Following the hearing, a spokesman for Padgate Academy said: “The academy was made aware of a complaint made to Cheshire Police by a former student on July 25, 2018, at which point Mr Ward was suspended from duty pending a disciplinary investigation.

“He remained suspended from duty throughout the disciplinary process. He resigned from his post on 07 January 2019, the day before the scheduled disciplinary hearing.

“In line with its statutory obligations, the academy subsequently made a referral to both the Disclosure and Barring Service and the Teaching Regulation Agency.”