'I never got the sense she was predatory'

10th October 2008 at 01:00

"This is ridiculous," Jon* thought, shortly before leaning in and kissing his teacher. "What's going on? This is bizarre."

Jon was 17 when he began a short-lived affair with Penny*, an art teacher at his school. The London independent school was renowned for its informal atmosphere, and teachers often socialised with pupils.

When a football team-mate of Jon's organised a party at a country house, he invited their sports teacher. And the sports teacher, in turn, invited 24-year-old Penny.

"She was the one all the blokes fancied," said Jon, now 30. "She was definitely one of the more attractive younger teachers."

After a few beers, the sports teacher mentioned to Jon that Penny was interested in him. The sports teacher then contrived for the two of them to be left alone.

Jon thought nothing of it until, in London, his mother answered a phone call and - unaware who was calling - passed over the receiver.

Penny invited him to her house. "I thought, `Yeah, why not?'" he said. "I suppose there was a bit of excitement that went with seeing an older woman. And she was quite a well-known teacher in our school, so there was a bit of kudos attached to it. But I didn't brag to my mates. I was actually quite a well-behaved student, so I didn't want to get found out."

Eventually, after four or five months, the relationship fizzled out. Shortly afterwards, Penny left for another school.

"The whole thing never affected me in any way," Jon said. "I never got the sense that she was predatory. I mean, it's obviously not normal behaviour, but she didn't deserve to go to prison.

"There may be some predatory teachers out there, so there probably does need to be some regulation. But for me, it's not a big deal: it's just one of those stories you tell in the pub."

*Names have been changed.

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