Revelation by a colleague.

(55 Posts)
FiEllis Wed 20-Nov-13 18:16:43

OK I previously posted this in education but got no responses so reposting here - hope that's ok.

I work in an FE college and recently gave a colleague a lift home from a leaving do. She was a little bit drunk and confessed to me that she is having a sexual relationship with a student! She is married with four kids, the youngest is 9. She got married young and had never slept with anyone else and told me she just wanted some fun and didn't see any harm in it. The student is 18 and part time. He's due to leave in a few months. She came to me the next day, told me she trusted me and begged me never to tell anyone as it would wreck her marriage and she would lose her job. She then emailed shortly after and told me it was all a joke and she didn't really do it but I don't believe this. She's now started pretty much ignoring me. I can't betray this confidence but feel disturbed and burdened by this revelation as I can't talk about it to anyone. I just feel better being able to say it on here.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Wed 20-Nov-13 18:29:09

it does not sound good. what does your employment handbook say?

FunkyBoldRibena Wed 20-Nov-13 18:39:56

What do you mean you can't betray the confidence...safeguarding means you absolutely have to notify your safeguarding officer. If you don't, you are implicit in any fall out. Do it first thing tomorrow.

tweetytwat Wed 20-Nov-13 18:48:07

you can betray this confidence and you must.

you must.

Littleredsquirrel Wed 20-Nov-13 18:50:25

It is not a confidence it is a disclosure. You have safeguarding obligations and it would be misconduct for you not to report this. You could be dismissed.

I am an employment lawyer. I am currently dealing with a number of safeguarding investigations. Everyone is very alert to the issues at the moment. Report it immediately.

MaryShelley Wed 20-Nov-13 18:54:15

Yes, safeguarding. Your establishment should have a safeguarding policy you can consult.

FiEllis Wed 20-Nov-13 18:57:46

Of course safeguarding says that relationships between staff and students are prohibited. The complications for me are:
I can't prove it
I don't know the student's name
I know she would deny it
I have met her husband (he's very nice) and he knows my husband
I know I would feel responsible for the obvious destruction a disclosure would cause, the hurt her husband would suffer and also the hardship of her children, who are the same age as mine (not to mention the trouble it might cause the young man).
She described the student to me as 'an adult who knows what he's doing and is loving it'.
I'm scared that everyone would hate me for getting her into trouble - she's a very popular woman.
A couple of years ago I told my manager that a fellow teacher had repeatedly made homophobic remarks about our student LGBT support group. What followed was a truly horrible 'investigation' where I ended up not being believed because he denied it - we no longer speak and his friends still blank me. I don't want to go through that sort of thing again.

This student is 18 yes?

MaryShelley Wed 20-Nov-13 19:01:36

This is tough but you could be in trouble if it comes out that you knew.

(I don't believe age if student is relevant if he is a student / teacher relationship)

FiEllis Wed 20-Nov-13 19:08:42

She told me the student was '18 nearly 19 and coming to the end of his last year'.

Tryandguessthisonethen Wed 20-Nov-13 19:13:32

Imo you have an obligation to report this. Tough though.

chocoshopoholic Wed 20-Nov-13 19:16:09

The investigation / burden of proving it lays with the safeguarding officer of your college. Although it isn't nice, she made the disclosure and needs to live with the consequences. As another poster said, you are implicit in any fall out from this.

TynesideBlonde Wed 20-Nov-13 19:18:52

As a senior manager in an FE college- you must report it under safeguarding policy. There is no choice, it's a requirement. I have been involved in staff disciplinaries in which those who have failed to report have received sanctions/ been dismissed. It really is not your decision to make.
Consider this: your friend may have told the student you know, and to deny if asked, this could all come out at a later date. Allegations involving relationships with under 18s (including those who are 18) are passed externally to social services and the police.
And you do have some proof - an email.

MaryShelley Wed 20-Nov-13 19:19:18

Interesting she sent an email about the discussion where she dismissed it as a joke. Is saying you had a relationship with a student even a suitable subject for a 'joke'. That in itself would be enough to get her into trouble I should think! Assume she wasn't stupid enough to use her work email address!

toffeesponge Wed 20-Nov-13 19:21:48

It wont be you who is responsible for wrecking her marriage and career.

You must tell or you could lose your own marriage and career.

Well I wouldn't say a thing.

LeBearPolar Wed 20-Nov-13 19:25:58

Yes, I'm afraid you don't actually have a choice but to report it - unless you are prepared to lose your job over this, which you could do, if it is found out that you knew and did nothing.

DoctorDonnaNoble Wed 20-Nov-13 19:28:17

You must report it. The fact the student is 18 nearly 19 is irrelevant. It is an abuse of position and illegal.
We have had far too many stories recently of people knowing but saying nothing. Imagine how you would feel if the truth came out and you had done nothing.

Littleredsquirrel Wed 20-Nov-13 20:05:12

The fact that you cannot prove it is completely irrelevant. If there is even a chance that it might be correct you have an obligation to report it. The safeguarding officer will take it from there.

Please report this or risk losing your job.

He's not an "adult" in this context. He's a student and she is taking advantage of a position of power and may well have been grooming him for some time before he was 18.

Think about this. If it comes out some other way, which it probably will since he is likely to mention it to his mates either now or when the relationship ends, she will lose her job anyway but you will too and may well be prevented from working in education in the future.

You are a professional. Your chosen career means that you have having professional obligations which involve the safeguarding of those in vulnerable positions.

toffeesponge Wed 20-Nov-13 21:40:23

It isn't your job to prove anything but you have a duty to report what you were told.

FunkyBoldRibena Wed 20-Nov-13 21:43:22

*Of course safeguarding says that relationships between staff and students are prohibited. The complications for me are:
I can't prove it
I don't know the student's name
I know she would deny it
I have met her husband (he's very nice) and he knows my husband
I know I would feel responsible for the obvious destruction a disclosure would cause, the hurt her husband would suffer and also the hardship of her children, who are the same age as mine (not to mention the trouble it might cause the young man).
She described the student to me as 'an adult who knows what he's doing and is loving it'.
I'm scared that everyone would hate me for getting her into trouble - she's a very popular woman.
A couple of years ago I told my manager that a fellow teacher had repeatedly made homophobic remarks about our student LGBT support group. What followed was a truly horrible 'investigation' where I ended up not being believed because he denied it - we no longer speak and his friends still blank me. I don't want to go through that sort of thing again*

Oh well, if she's popular then by all means, laugh it off.

Or do your job.

You have an email where she admits she said it [by saying it was a joke she is admitting that she said it]. Forward that to the safeguarding person at work and tell them what happened.

FFS - haven't you been on any safeguarding training? It is not your role to decide or investigate yourself, you have to disclose it and pronto.

You don't seem to actually give a shit about the student in all this - shame on you.

MrsS1980 Wed 20-Nov-13 21:47:51

You must, must report this. You have a duty of care and a legal as well as moral obligation. I think the fact you have posted on here shows you know that too. Good luck, OP. It will be difficult but we are here for support if you need us.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 21-Nov-13 03:38:34

OP is your username reflective of your real name?

If it is you might want to ask MNHQ to remove this thread...

FiEllis Thu 21-Nov-13 23:07:36

The email is not proof. It just says 'that thing I told you isn't true, I was just joking!'
No, my username is not my real name currently but it isn't a fictitious name either.
I thank some people for their opinions and thoughts. However the accusations and rude posts are very unhelpful and upsetting.
I am in turmoil here, thinking about this constantly. Of course I 'give a shit' about the student. One of my questions to this woman on the night was about the effect this might have on him emotionally. I have a son just a little younger than him.
I know what I should do but the anticipation of the fallout is just awful and I'm scared. When I spoke out about an issue once before, something not as bad as this, I believed I was doing the right thing but ended up very stressed and regretted saying anything.

whereiseveryone Thu 21-Nov-13 23:44:28

I know of several men who slept with older women when they were 18/19. It doesn't seem to have affected them!

Yes, it is very wrong and I'm not sure what I would do personally as I'm not sure I could handle the aftermath!

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