A teacher who claimed he had been shot while in the special forces and had inappropriate contact with a student has been banned from all classrooms in England.
William Sharkey was head of religious studies at Lymm High School in Cheshire between October 2020 and January 2022.
Sharkey was guilty of "serious" dishonesty according to a Department for Education panel, including lying to students and staff at Byranston School, Dorset, that he had served with the SAS and been shot twice whilst deployed.
Sharkey had maintained the claim since he was at university, Cheshire Live reports. He was sacked from the £43,450 a year private school in February 2016 after allowing a female pupil to enter his accommodation and be alone with him.
However, in his job application to Lymm High School, Sharkey omitted the fact he had been employed at Bryanston School, and that he had been dismissed.
While teaching at Lymm High School, Sharkey initiated communication over email during the Summer holidays with a female pupil described as "vulnerable" in the panel's report.
The panel said the emails were "over-familiar in their nature" and contained details as to what Sharkey had been doing in his private life. The panel's report states: "This included the phrase 'Stay awesome', 'Hahahahahahhaa!!!', the use of emojis, sharing information regarding trips he had taken and a book that he was reading."
It added: "His communications blurred the boundaries and risked the pupil misinterpreting the nature of the communications."
Sharkey's past caught up with him when a teacher at another secondary school expressed concern that Sharkey was working at Lymm High School despite being dismissed from Bryanston School. When Sharkey was asked about the reasons for his dismissal he said it "related to not having placed all of his jobs on his application form" and that he had "made a silly joke about working in the SAS and a fuss had been made about it".
The report says Sharkey did not make any mention of the issue of a pupil being alone with him in his accommodation during the formal investigation.
In its conclusion, the panel notes: "The panel was very concerned that Dr Sharkey had not exhibited any remorse or insight. He has admitted the allegations saving the need for a hearing to take place, but has referred only to his wish for these proceedings to be concluded since he is shortly moving overseas."
Sarah Buxcey, in her decision on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education, said: “Dr Sharkey’s acts of dishonesty were serious given that such behaviours were exhibited over a period of over 5 years and the lack of either insight or remorse.
“I consider therefore that a five year review period is required to satisfy the maintenance of public confidence in the profession. This means that Dr William Sharkey is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England. He may apply for the prohibition order to be set aside, but not until 2 June 2028, 5 years from the date of this order at the earliest.”
A spokesperson for Bryanston School said: "The prompt and decisive action taken by Bryanston to terminate the employment of Dr Sharkey just a few months after his appointment is evidence of the school’s robust policy for any breach of recruitment regulations and its strict safeguarding procedures.
"Although the report from the Teaching Regulation Agency confirmed there was no reason to suspect malicious or sinister intent on the part of Dr Sharkey, we provided every assistance to the agency’s professional conduct panel to ensure its deliberations were fully informed. In light of his continuing dishonesty and disregard of accepted procedures and regulations, we concur with the panel’s conclusions."
Lymm High School declined to comment.
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