Derbyshire teacher not struck off after commenting on pupil's breasts and ‘magic fingers’

A science teacher has been allowed to continue teaching after he commented on the size of a pupil's breasts, her short skirt and "magic fingers".

A professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency said Stephen Lindridge, formerly of Anthony Gell School in Wirksworth, had exchanged numbers with a vulnerable pupil, and tapped her on the bottom.

Anthony Gell School

Anthony Gell School

The panel heard how the pupil took a photo of herself on his phone and when he saw it, he told her "your head is tiny, your breasts look enormous and I can see up your nostrils".

In texts and messages to the pupil he wrote: “why did I get so distracted when you were sat in front of me in a short skirt having just taken your tights off!", and “you need to change your perfume. Men clearly can't help

themselves around you". 

In another message to the pupil, Lindridge, who was a science teacher at the school from 2012-2018, wrote: “maybe I only miss your magic fingers"

However, Lindridge explained that the comment made about “magic fingers” was in fact a joke between himself the pupil, which the panel found to be ‘credible’, but noted that the communication was “not appropriate for a teacher to message pupils”. 

Lindridge accepted his actions could be interpreted as "flirtatious", but the panel noted he "vehemently denied" they were ever sexual.

The school opened a formal investigation into Mr Lindridge’s conduct, in which it was alleged that in the summer term of 2018, Mr Lindridge engaged in ‘inappropriate social and physical contact’ with the pupil.

Following the result of a disciplinary hearing, Mr Lindridge was dismissed from the school.

The panel noted that the teacher admitted that he asked the pupil to delete messages, but explained that ‘his conduct was the result of him misunderstanding a management instruction to cease contact with the pupil’. 

The panel was satisfied that Mr Lindridge is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

During the hearing, the panel heard evidence from a witness that Mr Lindridge was a ‘very hard working teacher’, he had ‘good relationships with students’, that he was ‘well liked’, that he ‘achieved good results’ and that he was ‘caring’.

The panel found no evidence of pre-planning of the actions involved, calling his actions ‘spontaneous but naive’. 

Lindridge admitted that he saw himself as his pupils’ ‘friend’ and he realised this was inappropriate. 

A report from the hearing states: “In light of the exceptional mitigating factors that were present in this case, the panel has determined that a recommendation for a prohibition order is not appropriate.

“In this case, the panel has found some of the allegations not proven.

“The panel has made a recommendation to the Secretary of State that Mr Lindridge should not be the subject of a prohibition order.”

The panel decided his actions were not sexually motivated, and recognised he was a "good teacher".

As such, Mr Lindridge has not been banned from teaching.