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20th Apr 2024

Primary school teacher fired for teaching students to do TikTok dances

Ryan Price

The teacher also sent a pupil a photo of her nails on a private messaging app.

A primary school teacher was sacked for encouraging her pupils to use TikTok and filming her class performing a dance they had learned from the app.

Georgia Rogers, who began teaching at West Grantham Church of England Primary Academy in Grantham, Lincolnshire in September 2019, was dismissed from her position for breaching the school’s safeguarding procedure around children’s exposure to social media sites.

The case was presented at an employment tribunal hearing, where it was revealed that on the last day of term in July 2021, the pupils in Ms Rogers year five class asked if they could “show her a TikTok dance”.

The teacher failed to report her pupils use of the app to the school authorities, and instead used her background in teaching dance to help the kids learn the viral dance that they had seen on the app.

During the hearing, Ms Rogers stated that she told her pupils that it was “not appropriate” to make a video for social media in school. Despite this, she filmed the children performing the dance on the school’s iPad.

The school found that her failure to log the incident as a safeguarding concern – considering that the legal age for using the app is 13 – displayed a lack of care and responsibility that West Grantham Church of England Primary Academy deemed unacceptable.

In her appeal, Ms Rogers presented documents which, in her view, demonstrated that the school ‘promoted the use of TikTok’.

Amongst these documents were examples of other teachers encouraging their pupils to watch BBC Newsround, a programme which regularly featured segments relating to TikTok.

Other issues arose against Ms Rogers during the hearing, including a claim that the teacher sent “borderline unprofessional” messages to a student and her mother through Dojo, an online messaging platform used by the school.

The tribunal heard that Ms Rogers sent the pupil a photo of her nails and wrote to her mum; “Bless her, I just love her,” and “Send her my love”.

At the end of the hearing, employment judge Victoria Butler said Ms Rogers was “undoubtedly a committed teacher who enjoyed her job” with a previous unblemished disciplinary record.

In being dismissed, Miss Rogers was told: “The panel therefore felt this could be seen as condoning pupils to use a social media site that was not appropriate for 10 year olds. Furthermore, despite knowing the students were using TikTok you did not raise this as a safeguarding concern, which you acknowledged you should have done.”

The teacher later attempted to sue the school for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination and, despite another employment judge saying the investigation into the TikTok allegation was ‘flawed’, her claims were rejected.

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