High Court uphold finding of unacceptable professional conduct by Professional Conduct Committee of the General Teaching Council.

The claimant teacher (NW) appealed against the decision of the Professional Conduct Committee of the General Teaching Council (the Committee) that she was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

The misconduct alleged, and found proved by the Committee, was that she had formed an inappropriate relationship with Pupil A. There were ten factual particulars, four of which were found proved. Those particulars were that; NW engaged in social networking with Pupil A via Facebook; in March 2009 walked hand in hand and kissed Pupil A in Whitstable; in March 2008 went into a public house with Pupil A in Whitstable and allowed herself to be photographed with Pupil A in a manner which suggested that you were in a relationship with each other. The Panel had before them a statement from Pupil A (consisting of a denial of any inappropriate relationship with NW), and live evidence from three teachers (one of whom had directly witnessed the acts above. The remaining six particulars were not found proved.

It was submitted on behalf of NW that ‘inappropriate relationship’ did not mean a sexual or intimate relationship and that it should be taken to mean inappropriately close or friendly relationship with the pupil but nothing more. It was further submitted that if that was not the case, there was insufficient evidence to make out that allegation in any event.

Having considered the evidence in this case Irwin J found no basis for concluding that the conclusions of the Committee were wrong, stating that ‘it seems to me very clear that they intended to find a sexual or intimate relationship between Pupil A and the appellant’. It was further stated that ‘it seems clear to me that there was a sufficient basis for them to do so, taking all of these particulars together’.

Accordingly, the appeal failed.