A Darlington teacher who was ‘over-familiar’ with students has been banned from the classroom.

Geography teacher Simon Gray bought pupils gifts, took one student running early in the morning and, sent them an ‘inappropriate’ and ‘excessive’ number of emails to schoolchildren.

The 44-year-old was teaching at Hurworth School in Darlington at the time.

A teaching misconduct panel, which was held in private, heard Mr Gray sent an excessive number of emails, including some of an inappropriate nature, to three pupils.

In one exchange he bad-mouthed another teacher saying, “BTW (sic) I don’t get along with [her] that well!”.

In numerous emails, he reminded the three students not to say anything about the messages, including saying, “Don’t forget things we talk about are just between you and I?”, and, “What we say between each other is between us.”

Concerns were raised to the school in March of 2022 by one of the pupils, known as Pupil 1, about an email they’d received from Mr Gray.

The school checked his emails and found a large number of relevant emails. The geography teacher, who is also involved with the scouts, was suspended pending an internal investigation and was interviewed by police.

On July 7 last year, Mr Gray resigned from the school before a disciplinary hearing - which had been scheduled for the previous month but was delayed - could take place.

The panel was also told he purchased one or more gifts for another student, known as Pupil 2, who he also provided with another pupil’s homework saying, “pls (sic) don’t tell anyone.”

The former teacher also took a third pupil, Pupil 3, running alone before 7am one weekend, and invited two students on a school trip he had organised, even though they were not part of the cohort.

His actions were found to have breached professional standards.

The panel, chaired by Mr Terry Hyde, said: “There was an element of familiarity that would not be expected in communications between teachers and pupils, and there was a large number of messages, sent out of school hours. Some messages related to matters unrelated to teaching.

“Mr Gray behaved in a way that was not transparent in communicating his actions.”

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It added his actions breached safeguarding rules and he was guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct”.

The teacher was banned from the classroom, or teaching in any sixth form, college, youth accommodation or children’s home.

He will be able to apply for the ban to be revoked after two years.

Hurworth School declined to comment.