Published: 10:02, 13 May 2021
| Updated: 07:26, 14 May 2021
A former primary school teacher has been banned from the profession for at least two years after sending "sexually explicit" messages to a 16-year-old on Instagram.
William Kingsland, 41, resigned from his position at Harrietsham Church of England Primary School, where he had been for five years, after screenshots of messages were circulated on social media.
A professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency found that Mr Kingsland’s conduct amounted to both unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.
The teenager was not a pupil at the school and had never been taught by Kingsland.
The panel, which met virtually in April, heard that on January 25 last year Mr Kingsland sent private messages on Instagram to the teenager, described as an acquaintance who he had met outside of the education setting.
The messages included: "U got a gf or girls for fun?" or words to that effect; "Just interested.. u should get plenty of action" or words to that effect; "Ur a hot lad and just interested. No need to be shy" or words to that effect.
Mr Kingsland was aware of the teenager's age, later acknowledging that his Instagram profile stated he was 16 and he had been told this in previous private messages between the two.
Screenshots of the messages were shared on social media, including on community groups, prompting concern from the local community. The school had been identified as Mr Kingsland's place of work.
The teacher immediately told the school when he found out and admitted sending the messages.
An internal investigation was carried out and Mr Kingsland resigned from his position several months later, on March 10.
Ahead of the panel meeting, Mr Kingsland admitted unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute
The panel said it was satisfied that Mr Kingsland's conduct fell "significantly short of the standards expected of the profession."
A report of the panel's finding reads: "The panel considered that Mr Kingsland’s actions had affected the way in which he fulfilled his teaching role and potentially led to pupils being exposed to or influenced by the behaviour in a harmful way."
The panel concluded that the incident was a "one-off" and Mr Kingsland's remorse was genuine.
The report reads: "The panel considered that Mr Kingsland had shown a deep level of insight into his actions. Mr Kingsland had reported and admitted his actions to the school, within hours of sending the private messages.
"He had also written a meaningful apology to colleagues, as well as reiterated how sorry he was throughout the disciplinary hearing."
The document added that Mr Kingsland "had not used his professional position to influence or exploit" the teenager.
The school's disciplinary report said that Mr Kingsland had been considered a "good teacher" with "positive and strong" references provided as part of his appointment.
Mr Kingsland also admitted and was found to have breached the school's online policies, which covered the personal use of technology off-site.
He also admitted and was found to have breached the school's code of conduct.
Mr Kingsland has a right to appeal the teaching ban within 28 days of being given the notice of the prohibition order.
He was banned from teaching indefinitely and cannot apply for the prohibition order to be set aside until April 2023. A panel will then meet to discuss the application.