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Teachers warned of Facebook misuse

Teachers learn lesson the hard way

Teachers have been warned not to add pupils to their Facebook as they are reminded to maintain a separation from their personal life.

An internet security expert told the National Union of Teachers conference that more pupils are ridiculing teachers on the social networking site. School heads and governors are also using it to screen potential candidates.

Many teachers have already been humiliated by unwise use of Facebook such as headteacher Belinda Langley-Bliss. She posted a photo with an inappropriate comment about her body shortly after introducing a hardline disciplinary regime at Wilmington Enterprise College in Kent.

Karl Hopwood, a former teacher turned internet consultant, described how another deputy head had pictures of him in a Superman outfit taken from the site and placed on the school noticeboard.

Knowing where to draw the line

Teachers were also warned about new site Formspring which lets users leave comments anonymously. American pupil Alexis Pilkington was bullied on the site before killing herself in Long Island last year.

Mr Hopwood argued a blanket ban on teachers using Facebook, introduced at Wilmington Enterpise College, isn’t the way forward. He said: “The line between private life and professional life is blurred now because of social media.

“Don’t friend pupils on social networking sites. Set up a group to link with the orchestra or rugby team.”

He also reminded teachers that potential employers may check Facebook and told how one teacher, who was struggling to find work, got a job after she was advised to remove a profile picture which showed her balancing a pint glass on her head.

The National Union of Teachers recently warned that simple acts including uploading holiday photos on social media sites could haunt them in the future.

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