Teacher had 'inappropriate relationship' with self-harming pupil

6:01pm Monday 2nd December 2013

A RELGIOUS education teacher developed an "inappropriate relationship" with a self-harming schoolgirl by exchanging messages with her on Facebook, a conduct hearing was told.

Lisa Manship became a "shoulder to cry on" for the pupil; hugging her and ending online messages with kiss signs, the General Teaching Council for Wales heard today.

She used the social networking site to communicate with the teen, which was contrary to school policies at Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni in Fleur de Lys, a panel heard.

Ms Manship had previously assured school staff she was not using Facebook with the pupil but was found to have exchanged foul-mouthed messages with her between 2009 and 2011.

She was sacked for gross misconduct in November 2012, the professional conduct hearing was told.

Ms Manship denies having an inappropriate relationship and or friendship with the pupil, inappropriate conversations with her via Facebook and that the two matters amount to unacceptable professional conduct.

Giving evidence before a teaching council panel in Cardiff, school headteacher Owain Ap Dafydd said: "She was a very nice little girl. She was 17 but was looking about 13.

"She was very needy. She was the kind of person who would look to somebody for support. It shouldn't have happened in the first place. The communication shouldn't have been there. It's just wrong.

"Everything about it is wrong, the level and quality of the language and the content, referring to self harming, all about childish gossip and children after school. I just found it terrible."

The schoolgirl started most of the Facebook conversations though Ms Manship initiated some of the online exchanges, the panel heard.

The RE teacher knew about Facebook blocking and tried to stop contacts on the social networking site with the girl, referred to as "pupil A", panel members heard.

The panel was told that she failed to inform the school's child protection coordinator about the self-harming conversations.

However, Ms Manship did not believe she self-harmed at the time she exchanged messages with her on the subject, members heard.

The comprehensive school knew the pupil had a history of self harm as staff referred her for it in 2008 and 2010, panel members were told.

NASUWT union rep, Geraint Davies, speaking for Ms Manship, said the fact the matter was known meant there was nothing new to report.

Proceeding

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