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Teacher Struck Off for Facebook flirting, bottom slapping and indecent images

Fri 19 Sep 2014

Teacher Struck Off for Facebook flirting, bottom slapping and indecent images
Mr Arnaud Barge a 40 year old Head of Modern Foreign Languages previously working in Bromley has been banned from teaching for life by the Secretary of State following a Panel hearing before the National College for Teaching and Learning, subject to his right of appeal.

Every year in September there was a 2 or 3 hour session for teachers going through in detail the responsibilities of teachers regarding safeguarding, its meaning and how to deal with situations. Throughout the year there were CPD sessions. Teachers were strongly advised at the training not to use social media inside or outside work to communicate with students. There was not written evidence that Mr Barge was at the training.

Mr Barge was suspended by his school on 2 December 2011 and resigned in November 2012.

Inappropriate use of Facebook
Mr Barge’s comments on Facebook to Student A in July and August 2010 included, amongst others, references to ‘poke away darling xx’, ‘thanks honey’, ‘night night xx’, ‘I’ll still change your attitude, sexy boy’, and ‘I know your not that bad, sexy, you’re a good boy really’. Mr Barge instigated the Facebook conversations on at least one occasion.

Mr Barge had been subject to an unsuccessful criminal prosecution in which the trial judge apparently and somewhat surprisingly told the jury that the communications through social media were foolish but not inappropriate.

Slapping a 15 year old pupil’s bottom
Student A also stated that over a three year period Mr Barge had been touching his bottom saying ‘it happened more than once, normally when I was standing to go out of the classroom’, that ‘it was just a slap and not a grope’ and that ‘it made me feel uncomfortable’.  The Panel found that this had happened despite the Crown Court’s not guilty verdict.

Possessing 4 indecent images of children on a USB memory stick on 12 December 2011 
Mr Barge had been granted a discharge by the Magistrates Court against criminal allegations of possessing indecent images but the Panel found that the allegation was proved. The report of the Panel hearing does not give an indication of the nature of the images other than that they were indecent. 
The Panel therefore finds this particular proved.

Key learning points from this case for Headteachers. Designated Safeguarding Leads and Safeguarding Governors:

  • Ensure that notes of attendees at safeguarding training are kept.
  • Need to stress to staff and pupils that contract between them over Social Media is not permitted and should be immediately reported. In this case Student A did not feel able to come forward for well over a year about the Facebook comments.
  • Need to reinforce the rules of physical contact between staff and pupils


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