Novice music teacher who admitted briefly kissing South Yorkshire school pupil is spared a ban

A novice music teacher in South Yorkshire who admitted getting too friendly with sixth form students and briefly kissing one has been spared a ban.

Monday, 15th January 2018, 3:05 pm
Updated Monday, 15th January 2018, 3:50 pm
Wales High School (photo: Google)

Felicity Simpson was just 22 when she began her first teaching job at Wales High School in Kiveton Park, Rotherham, near Sheffield, in September 2016.

She admitted developing an inappropriate relationship with one of her sixth form students, including allowing him to put his legs on her, holding hands and briefly kissing him on one occasion.

But she denied her conduct was sexually motivated, with a disciplinary panel finding that allegation was not proven.

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She told the panel she 'adored' the student in question but not romantically or in a sexual way.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership ruled that she was guilty of unacceptable professional misconduct.

But it decided not to ban her from the profession as she was newly qualified, was 'deeply remorseful', had taken steps to address her behaviour and was an 'outstanding' teacher with much to offer students.

The disciplinary panel heard how Ms Simpson, who now works for Doncaster Music Service, had quickly become close to students, including one in particular, after starting at Wales High School.

She failed to heed advice from a deputy headteacher, who reported concerns about her behaviour, and after a verbal warning was issued and an investigation had been launched into her conduct she resigned from the post in March last year.

She admitted exchanging texts with a student, buying that pupil a gift on or around Valentine's Day last year and socialising with students outside school, on one occasion buying alcoholic drinks for a group of pupils despite not knowing whether they were all aged 18 or over - a decision she branded 'beyond stupid'.

Following a school performance in which she had been closely involved with students, the panel heard how during the ensuing celebrations a pupil had kissed her on the lips without warning.

"Momentarily, Miss Simpson returned his kiss but then pushed him away and immediately regretted what had happened," states the panel's report, published today.

In recommending she be spared a ban, the panel stated: "Taking into account her level of insight and remorse, the remedial steps she has taken, and the impression she made in the course of this hearing, the panel was satisfied that the risk of repetition of such conduct was very remote."

The panel's recommendation was upheld by Dawn Dandy, on behalf of the education secretary.