French teacher sacked after attempting to scupper transgender candidate’s hopes of being head girl

A French teacher has been sacked after attempting to scupper the election hopes of a transgender candidate who wanted to be head girl. 

Susan Field told her tutor group she felt the pupil was not "representative" of the student body and that it was not an "appropriate" role for her, the teaching watchdog found.

Ms Field, who was said to have previously enjoyed an "unblemished 35-year teaching career", was dismissed from Ash Manor School, in Surrey, for gross misconduct after a disciplinary hearing into her remarks and subsequently lost her appeal.

The student, referred to by the Teaching Regulation Agency as "Pupil I", had publicly identified as a female student to the school since the start of the academic year.

Staff were briefed that she wished to identify as a girl, would have a girl’s name and that female pronouns should be used when referring to her.

She was running for election on the school’s student senior leadership team, but Ms Field admitted she had attempted to scupper this.

Ms Field told 21 children in her Year 11 tutor group that "the reason why she was going to rank Pupil I last was because she considered that Pupil I was not representative of the student body".

The teacher went on to admit that she had intended to use her teacher vote to rank the pupil in bottom place as she thought she was the "least representative student" to be made head girl.

The panel found proven allegations that she was guilty of making "inappropriate and transphobic" remarks while discussing Pupil I’s candidacy.

She admitted saying Year 7 should not be introduced to "that kind of thing" in reference to the possibility of Pupil I being elected as a role model to  represent the school.

The disciplinary hearing in Coventry was told that, during the 10 to 15-minute conversation in May 2019, various pupils described Pupil I as "disgusting". Other "hostile and derogatory language" was also used – which Ms Field failed to challenge, the panel said.

During the investigation, she admitted telling her tutor group that it is "not appropriate for a member of the LGBTQI to represent Ash Manor School".

She also admitted that she felt at that time that "children as young as 11 years old might be confused or uncomfortable with having Pupil I as a role model".

Chris Rushton, who chaired the panel, said:  "There were numerous examples that a number of derogatory or hurtful remarks had been made by pupils against Pupil I based on Pupil I being transgender during the tutor group conversation.

"The panel found it concerning that Ms Field had allowed such hostile and derogatory language to be used and had not challenged it during the discussion.

"Ms Field admitted that at no stage during the discussion did she interject to admonish pupils for making derogatory comments."

Ms Field told the school’s internal inquiry that she "deeply regret[s]" expressing her opinions about the student’s suitability for the role. 

She said: "It was not professional. I realise that now and regret the whole thing. At that point in time, my comment didn’t show respect."

Alan Meyrick, for the Education Secretary, stopped short of banning Ms Field from the classroom, saying she had shown "clear and genuine remorse for her actions".

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