Colne teacher cleared over Facebook messages

editorial image

A TEACHER at a Colne school who resigned in the face of allegations he contacted pupils on Facebook, and sent messages containing “inappropriate” language to former students, has been cleared of wrongdoing by his professional body, the General Teaching Council.

The GTC’s Professional Conduct Committee found James Keogh not guilty of unacceptable professional conduct while employed at Colne Primet High School between August, 2005 and January, 2010.

It said Mr Keogh was employed initially as a graduate trainee and then, from September 2006, as a newly-qualified PE teacher.

Once the allegations in the case were raised, disciplinary proceedings were started but Mr Keogh resigned before they were concluded.

However, the only allegation the committee found proved was that he contacted at least two students of the school via Facebook while they were in Year 11.

Its decision states: “We are not satisfied that merely contacting students via Facebook is conduct that falls short of the standard expected of a registered teacher.

“We have not been provided with any details of the content of the communications or any school policy which prohibited such contact. Indeed, there is some evidence communication between students and teachers via Facebook was not uncommon.

“Accordingly, Mr Keogh is not guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.”

It found other allegations – that he communicated with a number of former students of the school via Facebook in 2008 and 2009 with messages containing inappropriate language and obtained the mobile telephone number of a former student and sent them an inappropriate text message – not proved.

It said: “There is evidence Mr Keogh communicated with a number of former students. However, we do not have sufficient evidence to conclude any messages sent contained inappropriate language.

“There is evidence Mr Keogh obtained the mobile telephone number and sent a text message to a former student. However, we do not have sufficient evidence to conclude the message sent was inappropriate.”