Teachers suspended in second Facebook outrage
TWO teachers at a secondary school have been suspended after a crude Facebook exchange about their pupils.
South Holderness Technology College has become the second East Yorkshire school in days to be engulfed by a controversy over messages posted on the social media site.
South Holderness launched an investigation after pupils passed around copies of the messages, containing crude language, in an online chat involving teachers Sara Clappison, Carl Slaughter and Simon Williams.
Head of English Sara Clappison allegedly made jibes about the "year 11 bottom set".
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The lewd comments included foul language and references to her pupils' likely reaction to watching sexual aspects in a film version of Macbeth.
A message ascribed to another teacher, Simon Williams, discusses the same set of pupils and their reaction to watching Henry V.
It read: "All fell asleep. Well actually not all. One got up, said 'This is sh*t" and left the room'."
English teacher Carl Slaughter appears to have written: "All will think it's the wrong week. Most will have a pen. Some will have a pen that they left in the last lesson or it has just exploded." He is alleged to have continued the conversation, using a very crude sexual phrase.
South Holderness Technology College has confirmed two staff have been suspended.
The 1,841-pupil Preston secondary would not confirm the suspended teachers' names, but it appears Mr Williams is not one of those suspended as parents have told the Mail he was still teaching yesterday.
The investigation comes in the wake of the scandal at Westcott Primary School in east Hull, where one teacher could be facing the sack over insults posted on Facebook.
Martin Cooper, head of South Holderness Technology College, said: "The college was made aware of these allegations earlier this week and a full investigation was launched.
"In accordance with our disciplinary procedure, an internal investigation is under way and an investigating officer has been appointed, supported by the local authority and two members of staff have been suspended as a precaution.
"I would like to assure parents and carers of students at the college that these allegations are being treated seriously and should further action be taken after the investigation, it will be carried out."
Mr Cooper insists a clear code of conduct is in place on the use of social networking sites.
He said: "As the investigation is under way, I am unable to comment further, but the college has a clear code of conduct for staff to ensure the highest professional standards for all staff and this makes reference to the use of social networking sites."
Parent Richard Skelton, 44, who has two children at the secondary, complained after learning about the insulting messages.
HGV driver Mr Skelton, of Bilton, told the Mail: "These are professional teachers and they should act in a professional way, they should know better. This should not happen, they should not be allowed to comment on Facebook like this.
"Everyone knows about it at the school. I heard one of the children had come across it on Facebook and it was then circulated via Facebook and mobile phone."
Father of five Mr Skelton said he was going public with his concerns because he did not want the matter brushed under the carpet.
He said: "I was told it was being investigated in-house which is why I have contacted the Mail. This must not be swept under the carpet.
"At my daughter's workplace they are not allowed to comment about work or they get sacked. I think the same should happen to teachers.
"If the kids get into trouble they serve a detention, they get punished.
"I want a proper investigation to get to the bottom of this."
Alison Michalska, director of children, family and adult services at East Riding Council, said: "The school acted swiftly and decisively to investigate the allegations of inappropriate posts on Facebook.
"All staff in East Riding schools have been made fully aware of the rules regarding their conduct when using social media and if it is proven that they have contravened the code of conduct, which the school has adopted, they will be disciplined appropriately.
"All users of social media need to be aware of the implications of making inappropriate comments which can never be wholly private and it is naive to think that comments made in this way can be acceptable if they bring their employer into disrepute or imply a relationship that is disrespectful to others' human rights."
National Union of Teachers branch secretary Brian Swinton said: "Our advice is don't criticise your employer in public and it is not wise to talk about kids outside the classroom."
Mr Swinton is advising teachers to check their online privacy settings.
He said: "Over the past few months Facebook has changed its privacy settings.
"Default settings, which you get automatically, are not as private as they used to be and I fear some people may have been caught out.
"You have to go through a routine of increasing your personal privacy to what it was previously."
Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart said: "As chairman of the education select committee, I think we do need to follow this case and other cases we have read about lately closely and we could think about whether it is best left to schools or whether more national guidance is needed."
The school referred inquiries from the Mail to East Riding Council.