EducationPop QuizSecondary Education

Pop Quiz – When Professionalism Fails

Today in the UK, a 30 year old high school maths teacher was jailed for five and half years for child abduction and under-age sex. He had been conducting a sexual relationship with a girl of 15, a pupil at his school, which had eventually led to them running off to France together. The hunt for the pair was a huge news item over here last year and the trial has been taking place over the last week. The teacher was convicted of child abduction (for taking the girl to France without her parents’ permission) and of several counts of sex with a child.


I’m not going to go into all the lurid details of the case here; there are plenty of news sites for that. It’s a depressing case and the lives of many people have been left in ruins. A young girl has been taken advantage of and, in the words of her mother’s public statement, has had part of her childhood stolen from her. Cases like this really get to me and I’m pretty sure the same can be said for many fellow teachers. We all have a duty of care to the young people who we work with and the vast, vast majority of us would never dream of doing anything at all to break that duty. When one of our peers misuses their position to hurt a young person, I can’t help but feel that it reflects badly on the profession as a whole. The judge in this case said that the teacher encouraged the girl’s infatuation with him and failed to maintain a professional barrier.


It’s true that high school teachers can sometimes be the focus of crushes from some students. We work with young people who are in the deepest midst of puberty and who sometimes direct their burgeoning affections in unsuitable directions. We have an absolute responsibility to firmly discourage situations like this from developing – a responsibility which this particular individual failed to live up to in the worst way.


For this Pop Quiz, I’d like to hear your views about cases like this one.


Have you ever been aware of being the target of a student crush? If so, how did you deal with the situation? Did you ignore it and leave it to fade out, or did you confront it straight on to nip it in the bud?


How do you feel when your hear stories about teachers who have so badly let the profession down?


The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3pm ET. 


Featured Image Credit : Hebedesign

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Alasdair is a high school English teacher in Scotland. He's a passionate skeptic and science fan, which is why he runs a discussion club for young skeptics in his school. He loves space and astronomy more than pretty much anything and is studying for a physics degree in his spare time in order to become qualified to teach science.

He lives with a cat made of distilled hatred and spikes.

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