Blurred boundaries for teachers | Education | The Guardian
the teacher who had a sexual relationship with a pupil, Jon Henley Maggie, an English teacher at a private girls's school in the east . "I've given students my home email address, simply because you need a quick turnaround," he says. . had moved advertising money away from news organisations. On the flight home, I sat between him and a female teacher and clung As the summer was whittled away in a blur of car rides, kisses and we could reveal the truth about our relationship, and the law would be on our side. On the other hand, problematic teacher–student relationships, a student experienced at home, problems at school in general (e.g., .. taken away by the teacher, to a student not being allowed in class for several weeks.
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Meg dies in Blake's arms 12 of 21 Miles 'Milco' Copeland reveals himself to Sally as her long-lost twin brother. Then three nights later there was another one: By the end, they were quite abusive. I kept thinking, if I don't respond, they'll stop, and in the end they did. But yes, it was unpleasant.
I lost sleep over it. So did my wife. Then they put it online and basically had a guess-the-bum competition. All quite innocent, you know, but very, very personal.
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The girls were all wildly apologetic afterwards, but I'm not at all sure they thought they'd really done anything wrong. It was a lesson to me, though.
I'm very, very careful what I say and do now. In the event, nothing was ever said, but it made me think. We're in a different situation these days. Last week, it was the turn of Christopher Reen, a classroom supervisor who became the fifth member of staff in three years at his school to face criminal charges over a sexual relationship with a pupil.
In both cases, mobile phone text messages — allegedly, in the case of Reen and a year-old pupil at Headlands school in Bridlington, Yorkshire, more than of them — were submitted in court as evidence of the offence.
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But behind these headline-grabbing scandals lies a more mundane reality for teachers today, which, while it cannot excuse such incidents, may perhaps go part of the way to explaining them: Once upon a time, teachers simply did not exist outside school.
There was a fixed distance; a clear definition of roles; lines that should not and, more often than not, could not be crossed. Now, contact outside the classroom is not only easier but, in many schools, actively encouraged — school web portals on which teachers and students can upload and download assignments, email each other questions and answers, post announcements and sometimes even chat in real time, are increasingly becoming the norm.
That fixed distance is shortening; those old boundaries — between professional and private, home and school, formal and informal — are blurring. It has been illegal in Britain since for a teacher to engage in sexual activity with any pupil at their school under the age of But despite a recent YouGov survey of 2, adults claiming that one in six people know someone who had an "intimate relationship" with a teacher while at school, teachers stress that the number of cases that ever go as far as court is tiny, and the number that end up in a conviction tinier still.
The NASUWT says it deals with about allegations of misconduct against its members each year, but only five or six involving inappropriate sexual contact most concern alleged physical abuse. As obviously inexcusable as they are, however, some teachers feel the intense media and public focus on a small number of high-profile cases such as those of Goddard and Reen — or, to take two more, Jenine Saville-King, a Watford teaching assistant cleared two years ago of sexual activity after exchanging pages of MSN messages in three months and text messages in four days with a year-old pupil, and Madeleine Martin, a religious education teacher from Manchester, who this month admitted an eight-day affair with a year-old boy from her school whom she first arranged to meet on Facebook — may be missing a much broader point.
Blurred boundaries for teachers
That's always happened, and I imagine it always will. Electronic media certainly gives greater access. But while it may also give the illusion of creating a private space, it's also written evidence.
There is definitely an issue here, though. Electronic communication is different. And while schools are creating web portals and actively encouraging online contact between staff and pupils, there are all sorts of guidelines warning us never ever to use Facebook with students, or to give out our personal mobile phone numbers or email addresses.
The trouble is, it's very easy for the lines to get blurred.10 Most Scandalous Teacher-Student Affairs
Public and private space get muddied. So what do you do? You don't want to risk losing the kids, so you give them your own mobile number.
And once that's happened, once a number is out there. And emails, too; I've sent personal emails to sixth-formers wishing them luck with their exam the next day. You can't be a jobsworth these days. An email or text is very much a one-to-one thing; a pupil might feel specially valued.