There was nothing shocking about the experience at all. It would only have been mildly shocking, in 1999 for heaven's sake, had they been a gay couple. However, some would be appalled at their "liaison" because while he is a teacher at my school she is a senior student who will commence sixth year this month.
They have been going out together for about a year. They are very discreet in that only about three staff at the school, myself included, are aware of this and only one student, the girl's best friend, and a younger brother know. Both sets of parents are aware of their love for each other and have no comment at all.
The reality is that there is a lot of hypocrisy about a situation like this. If two people of that age in virtually any other occupation were having a relationship, no one would bat an eyelid. No one would even be too concerned if he was a teacher at one school and she was a senior student at another or at a local college, or had now left the same school.
Is it an abuse of power? Of course not. If he was 50 and she was 17 it would be a very different matter and he would deserve all he got. However, a young lady of 17 is not a child and I am concerned to read that such an affair could actually become a criminal act under Scottish law.
I have been teaching for almost 20 years and I can think of 11 student-staff relationships in that time. Seven led to marriage (one between a sixth-year male student and a young teacher).
Perhaps it should remain at a head's discretion to ensure that either a teacher or a senior student transfers to another school where it becomes public knowledge. Most teachers I know feel that is the best option.
I trust that Sam Galbraith will have the good sense to leave it at that. He could be walking into a moral minefield otherwise.
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