Teacher, 34, who kissed 17-year-old male pupil avoids classroom ban

Married female physics teacher, 34, who kissed and danced flirtatiously with 17-year-old male pupil at nightclub avoids classroom ban

  • Ashley McConnell, 34, danced with and kissed a 17 year-old pupil in 2018 
  • A teaching panel found she drank excessively on a night out in Caithness
  • The investigation reprimanded her but said she could return to teaching 

A married school teacher found guilty of of kissing one of her pupils in a nightclub will be allowed to return to teaching.

Ashley McConnell, 34, was reprimanded by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) on Wednesday August 10. The council said her fitness to teach was impaired.

The Scottish physics teacher has been locked in a weeks-long legal battle to keep her job after an investigation into the 2018 incident.

Ms McConnell was said to have danced flirtatiously with a 17 year-old pupil and kissed him at a nightclub in Thurso, Caithness.

The teacher is also said to have held hands with the male pupil and told other pupils at the club who questioned her behaviour to ‘f*ck off’.

Ms McConnell told the GCTS investigation in July she had drank an excessive amount of alcohol before the night out and could not remember the details of what had happened. 

Ashley McConnell, 34, kissed a 17 year-old pupil in a nightclub in 2018, an investigation found

The panel found Ms McConnell danced ‘flirtatiously’ with the male pupil at local Skinandi’s nightclub in Caithness 

Ms McConnell, also known as Ashley Swanson, previously worked at Thurso High School in Caithness.

The secondary school teacher was out that night for dinner and drinks to celebrate a colleague’s 50th birthday.

A fellow teacher with her on the night out said: ‘I do not believe that she was in full control of her actions, she was more than tipsy and I do not remember her making any advances.

‘If she was sober it would never have happened as when people are drunk they do things they normally wouldn’t. Ashley was feeling like she wanted to party, I was the one who had to push her away.’

Ms McConnell gave some evidence through tears as she told the panel she recalled standing in front of the pupil, the Daily Record reported.

The GCTS panel handed the teacher a nine-month reprimand but said she would be allowed to return to teaching.

The investigation said: ‘The panel considered that a combination of factors had influenced her behaviour on that evening.’The panel was persuaded that the teacher’s behaviour was out of character and that it was neither predatory nor premeditated in intent.

The physics teacher, also known as Ashley Swanson, worked at Thurso High School in Caithness 

‘The panel considered that the teacher’s behaviour was remediable in all the circumstances. The panel noted that the teacher had admitted some of the conduct found proved, and that she had both reflected and taken extensive steps to remediate.

‘The panel considered that there was comprehensive and genuine regret and remorse, in addition to the teacher’s fervent assurances of having learned her lesson.’

It added: ‘The panel also considered that a reprimand would satisfy the public interest in the particular circumstances of the case.

‘A reprimand appropriately indicated the seriousness of the conduct to the profession and the public and would thus maintain public confidence in teachers and the teaching profession. 

‘The panel concluded that the reprimand should be imposed for nine months.’

Ms McConnell told the panel last month: ‘I do have a recollection of Pupil A standing in front of me and I remember spending parts of the night with [a former pupil she tutored].

‘It had probably been about three years since I taught him. He was in my S1 class and S3 class, I knew him and he was recognisable to me.

‘I can’t remember the content of the conversation [on the night]. I can remember parts of the night and it is not like I have blacked out and not remembered the evening, I don’t have an explanation, it is just the effect of drinking large amounts of alcohol.

‘I believe that in the pubs I was drinking two drinks at a time and in the club I was drinking shots but I can’t be sure I remember drinking the shots.’

She added: ‘I realised that my conduct had fallen short, I don’t drink alcohol anymore, perhaps if I hadn’t been drinking alcohol that night I wouldn’t be in the situation we are in.

‘I feel a great deal of remorse and shame. Behaviour of this nature will never be repeated, I hope you will see that my conduct at the time was in stark contrast to my typical character. The risk of repetition is non-existent.

‘My conduct in work was never questioned, I’ve taken all the steps that I can. I have made lots and lots of changes.

‘Did I annoy him that night? Yes, and was he the one who allegedly stopped the events? Yes, but no, I don’t think it caused him long-lasting emotional damage.’

The panel found there was insufficient evidence that Ms McConnell touched the pupil on the bottom or groin area. 

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