No sanction for teacher who made 'inappropriate' comments about staff to vulnerable student on Facebook

14th November 2017 at 16:50
David Warren exchanged messages with a vulnerable student on Facebook.
Sixth form teacher told he can continue teaching after showing genuine remorse for his behaviour

A sixth-form teacher who took part in online gaming and exchanged Facebook messages with a vulnerable student has been allowed to carry on teaching.

David Warren, who taught at Thomas Witham Sixth Form in Burnley, admitted the allegations, which dated to “between 2015 and 2016”.

A report from the National College of Teaching and Leadership, published today, says Mr Warren “contacted a vulnerable student through inappropriate means”, and exchanged messages which commented on his personal life and asked the students about hers.

It says: “He was being supportive of that student with good intentions, but he ignored defined ways in which such contact should have been made. To this extent his conduct was misguided.

“In addition, some inappropriate language was used and inappropriate references were made to other members of staff.”

'Poor judgement'

The panel found that Mr Warren was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, but said his actions did not amount to conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

The report says no doubt had been cast on his abilities as an educator. It adds: “He has fully accepted responsibility for his poor judgment and has shown genuine remorse for his actions. The papers put forward in support of him contain extensive good testimony as to his qualities as a teacher and he has a good previous record spanning 30 years.”

The panel members decided that, while Mr Warren’s breaches of the teacher standards were “serious”, his behaviour was not incompatible with him continuing to be a teacher.

The report says his conduct did not seriously affect the education or well-being of pupils, or involve any serious abuse of trust, or sexual misconduct or criminal behaviour.

It adds: “He was acting in support of a vulnerable student as her "significant adult" – these were actions that the student's mother has supported. His error was not complying with school policies and procedures as well as some of the content of the communications.”

Accepted responsibility

The panel decided that, because his behaviour was “at the less serious end of the possible spectrum”, and because of his good history, a prohibition order “will not be appropriate in this case”.

Alan Meyrick, who made the final decision on behalf of the education secretary, said he attached “considerable weight” to the fact Mr Warren fully accepted responsibility for his poor judgement and had shown genuine remorse.

He said that a prohibition order would “deprive the public of his contribution to the profession” and wrote: “I have concluded that a published finding of unacceptable professional conduct is proportionate and in the public interest.”

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