A former teacher at the John Masefield High School kept his job for two years after he was investigated for exchanging an 'inappropriate' text message with a 17 year old girl, a former pupil.

That was in 2016, and two years later, Oliver Paton, who taught at the school's six form centre, resigned just before a governors' disciplinary hearing to consider his dismissal for gross misconduct: a hearing which was called following fresh concerns and evidence collected "from a number of former pupils".

Now a recent Teacher Regulation Agency (TRA) hearing has banned Paton from teaching for life.

The situation has raised concern among parents, and the school took measures to address those worries this week.

In a statement, headteacher Andrew Evans said: "We are extremely sorry that a number of former students were contacted by this teacher and in some cases were sent inappropriate messages and obscene images. This was extremely upsetting and intimidating for them, and totally unacceptable.

"We would like to thank the young people involved for their courage in coming forward and assisting with the investigation. Their actions have helped to ensure that Mr Paton will not be able to teach again."

The lifetime ban has been imposed following the recent TRA disciplinary hearing in Coventry, which heard that Paton, aged 32, sent sex images and messages to former pupils through Facebook and other social media.

Paton sent an image of a penis to a former pupil asking ‘Is this what you want?'

Another message included an image of a penis partially obscured by an emoji and captioned ‘I want to see your bottom half spread with your top half.’

Other messages he sent read: ‘I’m drunk and hard asf’ – ‘Drunk and horny ha ha’ – ‘Fair one ….. think I need to put porn on’.

Paton who taught at John Masefield High School from September 2015 until October 2018 admitted: sexually motivated conduct; failing to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with ex pupils; following or friending them on social media platforms; sending them photographs/images of a sexual nature; sending them messages of a sexual nature; acting as he did despite a warning from the school; and that he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct which could bring the teaching profession into disrepute.

The TRA panel in its findings say concern over his behaviour was first raised in 2016 when the mother of an ex-pupil reported to a member of staff that Mr Paton had contacted her 17-year-old daughter and used language considered 'inappropriate'.

A disciplinary meeting was held at the school in 2016, after which Paton was warned about his behaviour. However, despite this, he went on to send the penis image messages and the others.

Concerning the circumstances of the 2016 hearing, Mr Evans said: "We immediately contacted the Herefordshire's Safeguarding Officer and the police. Following their help and advice we thoroughly investigated this matter and convened and disciplinary hearing. We took human resources and legal advice and were advised that, on the basis of the one text conversation, that this would not be considered gross misconduct and was not grounds for dismissal."

Instead, Paton on that occasion was issued with a formal written warning, extra training and advice, and kept his job.

Some parents have question whether the 2016 hearing led to the right outcome, and have also raised questions as to how the situation was apparently not made widely know to parents at the time.

On the Ledbury Reporter online page, one concerned parent said: "The school didn't even communicate to say 'be reassured', although I was informed of this by my son a year ago so how did pupils know ? Paton wasn't just a six form teacher he was a PE teacher for all ages."

The recent TRA hearing imposed the lifetime ban from teaching on Paton, on behalf of the Education Secretary.

TRA decision maker, Dawn Dandy, said the ban was “proportionate and in the public interest”.

She added: “This misconduct was repeated despite a warning and with the lack of full remorse and insight, I consider that allowing for no review period is reasonably necessary to maintain public confidence and is proportionate and in the public interest.”

It is open to Mr Paton to appeal to the High Court.