Headteacher who specialised in safeguarding had child abuse images

14th March, 2022 12:58 pm

Mark Smith, AKA Mark Bocker, used to lead a number of schools in Merseyside

A headteacher who specialised in pupil behaviour and safeguarding is now a convicted paedophile.

Mark Smith, better known as Mark Bocker, led a number of schools in Merseyside and the North West in career spanning almost 40 years.

Smith was handed a suspended sentence at Liverpool Crown Court after 82 indecent images were found on his phone.

He had changed his name shortly before appearing in court in an apparent attempt to shield his full identity.

Yet the judge in his case confirmed his birth surname, identifying him as a former headteacher with years of experience.

Before that, he was the head of a pupil referral unit (PRU) in Knowsley. PRUs are similarly targeted at pupils who have been excluded from other schools.

His niche experience in the area of behaviour management meant he became well known within the profession and was featured numerous times on an education podcast focused on improving pupil behaviour and safeguarding.

In an episode of the podcast, now removed from the internet, Smith said he first taught PE when he became a teacher.

After moving from Glasgow to England, he continued to work in a range of roles before moving towards teaching in schools with pupils with difficult behaviour.

A blurb accompanying the now removed podcast said Bocker “believes schools should provide life-affirming experiences for children, and that their carers and we as professionals and skilled trainers should enable and empower them to realise their aspirations”.

It also said that his experience meant he held a range of other roles in education, such as being a chair of governors for a trust that runs a school in Formby, where he lives, and being a member of a number of education councils.

Now aged 61, police arrested Smith after receiving a tip off about indecent images on a device that was later traced to him.

He was eventually arrested last year, with police analysis identifying a range of child abuse images on a Samsung phone.

Peter Hussey, prosecuting, said “On just one of those devices, a Samsung, they were able to spot that there had been stored on that item some 82 indecent images of children ranging across Category A, B and C.”

Overall, 13 images fell into Category A, the most serious, while 23 were in Category B and 46 were in Category C.

Lee Bonner, defending, said Smith was deeply remorseful for downloading the pictures and had already taken steps to try to address his behaviour and not offend again.

Sentencing him to six months in jail, suspended for 18 months, Judge David Swinnerton said: “It is a great pity that a man who has done a great deal for children in difficult circumstances finds himself before the court after looking at pictures of children being abused.

“It may seem remote to you because it is a picture – but each picture is a case of a child abuse that is taking place somewhere in the world.

“Those photos have been taken to feed a market and you are one of the customers for the worst type of content that the internet can provide.”

 

Source: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/headteacher-who-specialised-safeguarding-child-23372594

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