Rep­ri­mand for fe­male teacher

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views - THOMAS DEA­CON thomas.dea­con@waleson­

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.

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