Reprimand for female teacher
A PE TEACHER exchanged inappropriate Instagram messages containing swear words and “winky faces” with a pupil, a professional hearing has been told.
Rebecca Ford was a teacher at Ysgol Bryn Castell in Bridgend when a male pupil started following her on the social media app. An Education Workforce Council (EWC) fitness to practise hearing held in Cardiff on Tuesday heard the then year 11 pupil, known as Pupil A in proceedings, began messaging the teacher.
The EWC presenting officer Ashanti Walton said one of the messages from Ms Ford read: “If people knew I was messaging you I would lose my job.”
Ms Walton added the exchange contained “swearing and slang”.
Ms Thomas started work at the school in February 2017 and concerns were first raised in June the same year when another teacher was approached by other pupils aware of the mes- sages. Ms Ford admitted contact had taken place and said teenage boy Pupil A had sent the first message.
An investigation into the allegations started in July and in December a disciplinary hearing was held.
The hearing heard another pupil, known as Pupil B in proceedings, reported seeing “winky faces” in the messages.
A message by Ms Thomas to Pupil A said: “F*** [laughing-face emoji] anything has got to be better than that I suppose.”
Ms Ford, who was not present at the hearing on Tuesday, said the exchange did “not last more than four or five messages”.
Ms Thomas’ representative, Angharad Booker, told the hearing she “fully admits” the allegations.
In a statement the teacher said there was “no sinister” content to the messages, adding: “At the time I did not see what I was doing as wrong.” But she went on to say: “After reflecting on the incident I know it was not the right thing to do.”
At the time she started at the school Ms Thomas said she was “relatively inexperienced” and her role was like a “glorified babysitter”. Ms Ford admitted allegations that in or around June 2017 she allowed Pupil A to follow her on Instagram, followed Pupil A, and exchanged messages with the pupil of an “inappropriate nature”.
She also faced an allegation that as a result of her conduct she breached the school’s staff mobile phone policy and the protocol for use of social media and a third allegation that these actions constitute unacceptable professional conduct.
The committee of three found all of the allegations were proven and the outcome was a reprimand for Ms Thomas.
Ms Booker said Ms Thomas was not currently working as a teacher.