Teacher breaks down in tears after being found guilty of kissing and dancing with pupil, 17, in nightclub

24 June 2022, 20:04 | Updated: 24 June 2022, 22:09

Ashley McConnell broke down in tears after being found guilty
Ashley McConnell broke down in tears after being found guilty. Picture: Ashley McConnell

By Emma Soteriou

A female physics teacher broke down in tears after being found guilty of kissing and dancing flirtatiously with a 17-year-old pupil at a nightclub.

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Ashley McConnell fought for her career during a hearing in front of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).

The panel found she kissed a 17-year-old pupil at a local nightclub in March 2018, with there also being enough evidence to prove that the married mother danced in a "flirtatious" manner with the boy.

However, it found that there was not enough evidence to prove allegations that McConnell touched the pupil on the bottom or groin area during a night out at Skinandi's nightclub.

The physics teacher, who taught at Thurso High School in Caithness, told the GTCS that she had drunk an excessive amount of alcohol on the night of the incident and could not remember everything.

McConnell, who was 30 at the time, admitted holding hands with the schoolboy and telling other pupils to "f*** off" on the same evening after they questioned her behaviour.

She also admitted drinking an excessive amount of alcohol and giving one female pupil the middle finger.

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She said: "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."

However, McConnell refused to accept that the pupil may have been left with long-lasting emotional damage following events at the nightclub.

"Did I annoy him that night? Yes," she said. "And was he the one who allegedly stopped the events? Yes. But no I don't think it caused him long-lasting emotional damage."

Speaking of the toll of the incident on her, McConnell explained: "It has already affected me, I have not been able to teach for the last four years.

"I could get another job but that doesn't fill me with joy, I don't feel excited or passionate about that. I've been doing private tutoring but it's not the same."

The panel will now have to determine whether McConnell's fitness to teach is impaired and if she will be struck off the teaching register.

The hearing continues.