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Lost age of the discreet dalliance

I am writing in response to the story about the teacher sacked from his post in Newcastle for allegedly liaising with a female sixth-former (TES, January 16).

Attitudes have changed over the past 40 years towards this kind of relationship, as I myself was a sixth-former who went out with a young teacher at the school I attended.

We met at the school's dance and the friendship grew, until we actually became engaged while I was still at school! The response was not to immediately sack the teacher, but rather the kindly old headmaster gave my husband-to-be advice on future financial management, and told him that "penny buns would now cost him twopence!"

As long as public knowledge was kept to a minimum, he had no problem with it. Both sets of parents were also fully in the picture.

We were discreet; I did not wear my engagement ring in school, and when we married, it was a week after the end of the summer term. Pupils and staff were invited. All that was 40 years ago in an era that was not exactly known for its enlightened attitudes.

We are about to celebrate our Ruby wedding anniversary next year and still recall with amusement the time my husband put me in detention - and I am still there 40 years later!

There is a fine distinction to be made between the dangers of teachers exploiting young pupils and a genuine relationship between an 18-year-old pupil and a 26-year-old teacher. There are many instances of such partnerships in other professions as well as teaching.

If, as it appears, this male teacher was unmarried and no other parties were involved, the relationship should have been quietly discussed as to appropriate handling in the circumstances. Had my husband been treated in similar fashion, the profession would have lost a fine teacher!

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