A FEMALE teacher has been banned from the classroom for life after she was found to have had inappropriate relationships with two boys.
Emma Harfield, 29, was a history teacher at Mayfield School in Portsmouth, where she struck up a relationship with the friends.
She joined the school as a trainee in 2007 and staff first noticed her closeness to pupils in 2008.
The hearing was told at that stage she was informally discouraged from allowing pupils into her classroom at breaks and lunchtimes.
It was also heard that the two boys at the centre of the case – who cannot be named for legal reasons – shared a bed with Ms Harfield on separate occasions – one of them at a family member’s home in Devon – while she also kissed one of them, gave the boys expensive gifts and paid for one of them to clean her house.
Other teachers at the school, in Mayfield Road, North End, raised their concerns and Ms Harfield was dismissed in April 2011.
At a disciplinary hearing of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), Ms Harfield’s behaviour was found to have amounted to sexual misconduct and she was given a prohibition order which is an indefinite ban from working in schools, colleges or children’s homes.
A former colleague of Ms Harfield spoke of their shock about what happened.
They said: ‘Emma was a truly dedicated teacher.
‘She was the first one in in the morning and the last one to leave. She was an excellent tutor, particularly, and would always be there to listen to the students. She is a lovely, lovely girl which is why everyone was completely shocked when this all came out.
‘Emma was really the very last person you would expect to do something like this.’
The report from the NCTL revealed the boys slept over at Ms Harfield’s home. She gave one an iPad and a laptop.
In April 2011, Ms Harfield travelled to Devon to visit one of the boys while he was staying with family and they shared a sofa bed – although no physical contact took place.
When a friend of the family became aware that Ms Harfield was contacting the boy via Skype she was told to leave him alone, but she persisted.
Ms Harfield submitted documents to the hearing claiming she was suffering ill-health at the time of the events which led her to seek friendships.
No-one from Mayfield School was available to comment.
WOMAN CROSSED THE RELATIONSHIP BOUNDARIES
EMMA Harfield chose not to attend the hearing but made written submissions in response to the following allegations:
She maintained an inappropriate relationship with Pupils A and/or B between 2010 and 2011, which included:
· Making contact with Pupil A by telephone, text messages and Skype;
· Continuing to send Pupil A text messages after being asked to desist by the adult in charge of Pupil A that day;
· Spending time with Pupil A and/or Pupil B at her home outside of school hours;
· Staying overnight at her home and/or the home of Pupil A’s cousin, with Pupil A;
· Sharing a bed with Pupil A and/or Pupil B;
· Paying Pupil B to clean her house;
· Buying gifts for Pupil A and/or Pupil B.
All the allegations were found proven by the panel.
An allegation that Ms Harfield failed to follow management advice in respect of allowing pupils into her classroom during break and lunchtimes was found not proven.
Despite considering Ms Harfield’s claim of ill health, the report concluded, ‘Ms Harfield failed to respect the age and maturity of Pupil A and Pupil B, and Ms Harfield clearly crossed the professional boundaries that would be expected from any teacher /student relationship.’
The 29-year-old is not believed to have been subject to criminal proceedings in relation to the case.