I’d been teaching a couple of years at a primary school in Hackney in east London.
Just before Christmas one year, a parent who was the driving force behind the school’s PTA asked me would I like to come to lunch with a group of other active parents to discuss some ideas for re-invigorating the PTA in time for Christmas. They would like my input and feedback.
I mentioned it to the Head and she didn't object and agreed to allow me to be an hour or so late back. None of the parents were of children in my class - so I didn't think it would include any conversations about children. I thought nothing of it.
The lunch proceeded nicely. The four parents – all women in their late twenties / early thirties - had gone to considerable trouble to contribute items to a nice meal. We chatted about some great ideas for Christmas - events, fundraisers, parental involvement in grottos and performances. The whole thing was very convivial, pleasant and productive.
With much of the 'business' completed, conversation moved on, punctuated at times with light-hearted jokes and the odd hints of flirtatious banter here and there. By the time lunch adjourned, we had come up with some genuinely terrific ideas for revitalising the PTA.
As I was putting on my coat to leave, one parent said: “We can’t wait to tell all the girls (referring to other parents not there) that we’ve been flirting with you all afternoon! Everyone fancies you!”
We all laughed.
But should we have?
Harmless banter or sexual harassment?
What do you think?
Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk.
His new book: ‘Becoming a teacher – the legal, ethical and moral implications of entering society’s most fundamental profession’ is published by Crown House Publishing and can be ordered here.
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