Liverpool teacher banned from schools after messaging pupil and taking him on days out

Terrence Dykes’ conduct “went way beyond the normal professional boundaries a teacher should have with a pupil”.

An unqualified teacher at a Liverpool special school exchanged text messages with a boy telling him that he missed him, bought him a football shirt and took him on authorised days out.

Terrence Dykes engaged in an “inappropriate relationship and/or failed to maintain appropriate boundaries” with a pupil at Ernest Cookson School, West Derby, according to a Teaching Regulation Agency report. Mr Dykes was said to send text messages to the child saying he missed him and wanted to take him away on an Easter break.

He has been banned indefinitely from teaching following a hearing held in his absence last month. Mr Dykes did not respond to the allegations.

The report said Mr Dykes was an experienced unqualified teacher who had worked at the school since 1997 teaching art and craft. In 2019, concerns had been raised that Mr Dykes had taken a pupil on an unsupervised outing.

An unnamed individual spoke to the school and to Merseyside Police, and produced a mobile phone on which there were text messages between Mr Dykes and the child. Another unnamed person spoke to the boy who said Mr Dykes had taken him on outings, bought him food while they were out, and given him a football shirt.

He also confirmed he had exchanged text messages with Mr Dykes. These messages included the following statements from Mr Dykes.

The messages included:

“Sound. Iv missed you”, “I wanted to take you with us away for the Easter break”, and “I have an illness which can be bad. Been in and out of hospital for a few days”

“Iv only just got back from the ozzy. I’m still on a drip”

“Have you got WhatsApp because it’s free”

“Haha sound you should be sending me Message on WhatsApp.

“Send me, a message now on wRsapp”

“Did you have a good day. [REDACTED] … Hahaha. Reply on WhatsApp because your number has gone again. Must have deleted it haha”

The boy said Mr Dykes had taken him on three outings during school holidays or at weekends. He said two of these outings were to New Brighton and one was to Southport.

While on these outings using his own car, they had played football or played on the beach, and that Mr Dykes had bought him food. When interviewed in July 2019, Mr Dykes admitted that he had taken the boy on two outings and said he knew he “shouldn’t have done it anyway.”

These meetings were described as nothing to do with the school or the boy’s education. In his interview, Mr Dykes accepted that he had bought a football shirt, but not that he had bought it for Pupil A.

He said that he had bought it as a prize for the pupil, and they had won the prize. This account was rejected.

On the text messages sent to the boy, the panel found there was “no good reason” for Mr Dykes to use his personal mobile phone in this way and the personal information shared by him “went way beyond the normal professional boundaries a teacher should have with a pupil.”

The text messages were said to be friendly in nature and of a sort that might be exchanged between friends or family, rather than between a teacher and their pupil.

By buying food and a football shirt for the child, Mr Dykes singled him out for special treatment in a way that went beyond the normal professional boundaries.

The panel received no evidence that the teacher was previously subject to disciplinary proceedings/warnings, and took account of the positive evidence about his contribution to the profession, but they were not satisfied Mr Dykes had “fully reflected on or shown insight into what happened.

Banning Mr Dykes indefinitely from teaching, the panel said they were concerned there was a “risk of reptitition.”

Mr Dykes may apply for the prohibition order to be set aside, but not until 2024, two years from the date of this order at the earliest.