Teaching regulator takes action against former Swindon school head of drama

A FORMER drama teacher has been banned from the profession after sending dozens of messages to a former pupil on Facebook. 

Ryan Gilks met the girl while working at St Joseph’s College. In 2013, he accepted a Facebook friend request from the former pupil. 

The 36-year-old admitted he had “fallen horrendously short” of the standards required of a teacher. 

Regulators ruled his behaviour was likely to bring the profession into disrepute.

He admitted engaging in inappropriate contact with the girl, whom he had taught between 2008 and 2011, by sending her inappropriate Facebook messages in 2013. 

They included attempts to meet up with her, offering to buy her food. 

He told her it was OK for girls to take pictures of themselves and he was “thinking of his lovely lady” as he went to bed. 

Gilks worked as an expressive arts teacher at St Joseph’s Catholic College, Ocotal Way, between 2008 and 2011. He returned to the school in January 2014, staying there for around a month. 

In early February 2014, the girl – by then a former pupil at the Swindon school – told a tutor at her new college about conversations between her and Gilks the year before. 

Beginning in mid-April 2013 he sent a number of messages asking where she was, what she was doing, where she lived and worked. 

He met up with her at her college on April 17, 2013. He went on to regularly ask if she wanted to meet again. 

Swindon Advertiser:

St Joseph’s Catholic College, Swindon Picture: ADVER PHOTOGRAPHER

On July 21, 2013, he asked: “Fancy a day out?” A month later, on August 17, he asked: “Was thinking when I’m back, fancy a day out somewhere?” 

Three days later he added: “Guess I wanna see ya.” Later that day he said: “You were on my mind today though.” 

Gilks repeatedly offered to buy the girl food. On April 16, the day before they met up at her college, he messaged: “Well I’ll get a hot lunch if you want?” He added: “If there’s something you want I’ll get it for you.” 

On August 17, the day he asked if the girl fancied a day out, Gilks said: “Well, wherever we go has to have nice restaurants. I will treat you.” 

He’d asked inappropriate questions about her boyfriend. 

On May 20, he messaged: “Oh dear, he’s one of those who take photos of themselves in the mirror.” 

On the same day, he suggested it was “kinda ok” for girls to take photographs of themselves. 

Two months later, he asked: “Any other pics from your dressing up earlier?” 

And on August 21, he sent: “Thinking of my lovely lady as I go to bed.” 

Gilks was said to have unequivocally admitted the allegations. 

He had apologised to the pupil, her family, his own family and the school. 

A Teaching Regulation Agency panel found his behaviour was likely to bring the teaching profession into disrepute. 

He was handed a prohibition order, banning him from teaching indefinitely. 

In a written judgement Sarah Buxcey, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education, said: “I have had to consider that the public has a high expectation of professional standards of all teachers and that the public might regard a failure to impose a prohibition order as a failure to uphold those high standards.”

A spokeswoman for St Joseph’s College said: “The college has robust safeguarding procedures in place and the safety and wellbeing of our students is our number one priority.

“The individual in this case was not employed by the college when this inappropriate contact took place and he had already left the college when the allegations came to light.”

She added: “As soon as the allegations were made we cooperated fully with the relevant authorities to help with their investigation.”

Swindon Advertiser | News