matilda
Sarah Barton was found to have taken to girl to London to watch a performance of MatildaGetty

A married teacher has been banned from the classroom for having sex with a schoolgirl after taking her to see a West End play.

Sarah Barton, 36, admitted abusing her position of trust after having a sexual relationship with the pupil from an unnamed Essex school.

A professional conduct panel heard how Barton had arranged to meet the girl on several occasions, including attending one of her birthday parties, as well as taking her to London to watch Matilda and having sex with her at a hotel.

Barton, who was head of dance and drama at the unnamed school until 2016, was found to have bragged about the relationship with the girl, even having a photo of them kissing saved on her phone.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership panel heard how Barton had been warned by her friends about her relationship with the girl, which started in the 2015/16 academic year.

Barton admitted to failing to maintain appropriate boundaries and abusing her position of trust because of the relationship, which also saw her meeting the girl at pubs and restaurants and having sex in her car and fields.

The panel ruled: "Whilst there was no evidence that Mrs Barton's actions began in any deliberate manner, in light of the length of time that the relationship developed and the emotional benefit gained by Mrs Barton, the panel had to conclude there was planning by her to some degree.

"There were numerous opportunities for the relationship to be terminated by her. This was a sexually motivated relationship that continued despite warnings from her colleagues. It was not a one-off spontaneous event."

The panel said evidence suggests that Barton was an "exceptionally well respected" teacher at the school who "greatly assisted the progress of pupils" during her career, which began in 2007.

Barton has now been handed a prohibition order and will only be allowed to have the ban removed by 2022 at the earliest.

Alan Meyrick, of the NCTL, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education "In my view a five-year review period is proportionate and in the public interest. I am therefore taking the decision to impose a prohibition order with a provision for an application to be made to set the order aside after a minimum of five years.

"This means that Sarah Barton is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children's home in England."