Teacher banned for life over relationship with student

Igor Zharkov
Igor Zharkov

A former Ardingly College teacher has been banned from the profession for life after forming a relationship with a student which was proved to be sexually motivated.

A professional conduct panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership met on March 9 to consider the case of Igor Zharkov, who was working as an assistant teacher of physics.

National College for Teaching and Leadership

National College for Teaching and Leadership

In a report, published on Wednesday (April 11), the panel said Mr Zharkov had engaged in an inappropriate and/or romantic relationship with one student, and an inappropriate relationship with another.

He was also proved to have attempted to conceal the relationship and ignored written and verbal instructions from the school to stop.

Evidence put to the panel stated Mr Zharkov had bought gifts for the first child, given her 1:1 tuition outside of the school setting and met her in a hotel on more than one occasion.

In addition, he told the girl he "loved her", "wanted to have a future with her" and said she was his "soul-mate".

He was proved to have exchanged inappropriate messages with a second student about the first.

The panel reported the messages included: "It is not sex, not now, not until she is 18 and/or wants it", “I die inside if I do not see her” and “I cannot stop loving her and never will”.

He was also proved to have tried to conceal the relationships by telling both students to delete his messages, to keep the interactions secret and to change his name on their contacts lists.

Mr Zharkov was suspended by the school after concerns about his conduct were raised. He later resigned.

In its report to the Secretary of State, the panel noted Mr Zharkov had initially denied the inappropriate relationship with the first child.

While acknowledging that he had "previously been of good character", they recommended a banning order with no option for review.

The panel stated: "Mr Zharkov’s exploitation of his position of trust, particularly in using one to one sessions, giving her gifts and discussing possible future sexual contact with Student A, were significant factors in forming that opinion.

"Additionally, the panel found that Mr Zharkov ignored explicit instructions from the school to act within the bounds of an appropriate relationship with Student A to be a significant concern."

Mr Zharkov has 28 days to appeal the decision.