I promised the school that a copy of this communication will be posted on the internet so that, should they so wish, any pupils or member of public in a similar situation, may use it as a reference. So here is my response to recent actions within a school I previously worked at:
Dear [the Headteacher],
It has come to my attention that several students have been disciplined (including receiving exclusions) over comments on my Facebook page in relation to a member of staff at your school.
It is interesting to see how you find it unacceptable for students to comment on their opinions and concerns of current teaching staff, but how keen you are as a school to submit anonymous comments from students on another website (http://uk.ratemyteachers.com) as evidence for the General Teaching Council's case against me. Need I really highlight the level of hypocrisy employed here?!
Let me make a few things very clear:
Firstly, I am no longer in the employment of [a London] Borough Council and am perfectly entitled to communicate with and befriend whomsoever I may please, as are your students. You have absolutely no right to tell your students who they can and cannot befriend or talk to within their private lives. I understand that, because of the school's paranoia about what information I may share with them, you do not look on it favourably, but you can only advise and not tell any student that they cannot communicate with me. Also, your students have rights in relation to respect for their private lives and their freedom of expression that are being blatantly infringed. As a reminder to you, please take note of the following:
"Facebook Terms and Conditions
5. You will not solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else."
"European Convention on Human Rights
As adopted by the UK under the 'Human Rights Act' in 1998
Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life
Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
Article 10 – Freedom of expression
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers."
"The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
as signed and proclaimed by the Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission at the European Council meeting in Nice on 7 December 2000.
Art 7. Respect for private and family life
Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.
Art 11. Freedom of expression and information
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected."
Of course, there are certain conditions when these rights may be compromised. In the case of schools, this is usually when there are accusations of 'cyber-bullying'. However, there is no 'cyber-bullying' going on here. It is young people expressing their opinion about a teacher amongst people they class as 'friends', something young people have done for generations amongst themselves. On the contrary, there are serious accusations expressed of mental and verbal bullying by a member of your teaching staff which must be taken on board and, if it has not already taken place, investigated.
Secondly, I have been notified by several students of inappropriate comments made by this same member of staff about me. Whilst I have absolutely no issue with anybody disagreeing with my actions, life choices or disliking me, it is totally unacceptable that this member of staff should make public and frequent inappropriate references to me in front of students when it has nothing to do with the content of the lesson and when they are perfectly able to make up their own minds without the spreading of prejudice and maliciousness by this certain member of staff, who I have personally had no issues whatsoever with in the past.
Thirdly, I have made no mention of this member of staff's name or which establishment they are employed by and have not stated anything that is not true. It is clear this member of staff has a habit of publicly questioning my morals without ever reflecting publicly on their own.
Fourthly, I made a posting on Facebook in relation to this member of staff precisely because I had received several comments about their inappropriateness and was wanting to garner more evidence. It seems it is acceptable for this member of staff to publicly spout his opinion on my life choices, but does not appreciate it when the they receive the same in return.
Should you wish to contact me before then to discuss further, please feel free to use this email or call me.