License article

Teacher, student 'off their faces' on Facebook

Show comments

Education Queensland has ordered a teacher to remove a Facebook post from an apparently underage former student who joked about them both getting drunk at the weekend.

The girl's "inappropriate" post illustrates how contact between teachers and students on social networking websites can be fraught with difficulties.

Education Queensland this month banned all state school educators from using such sites to communicate with past and present pupils, forcing teachers to delete from their private pages any content deemed inappropriate.

One Facebook user - who attended Collinsville State High School, about 80km from Bowen, before she switched to a boarding school - referred to meeting up with a female teacher when she was back in town.

In her June 9 post on the teacher's wall, the girl asked: "how did you pull up yesterday??? i still felt drunk as when i got back to boarding... funny as i reckon!!"

It is unclear how the teacher responded to the comment as the girl's profile is set to private.


An Education Queensland spokesman told the teacher had been asked to remove the post in line with the department's new code of conduct.

"While individuals may not be responsible for material that can be viewed on their social networking sites the revised code encourages teachers to check these sites for inappropriate material," he said.

The spokesman would not say if the department planned to take any further action against the teacher involved.

The move comes amid ongoing debate on the new rules banning state school staff members from using Facebook, MySpace or YouTube to "contact or access present students enrolled in any school or institute".

"If you use internet social networks in your personal time you must ensure that the content is appropriate and private, and that you restrict access to specific people who are not students," the code of conduct states.

Independent Schools Queensland executive director John Roulston said today he was not sure if any private schools had introduced similar restrictions as it was up to the individual colleges.

how did you pull up yesterday??? i still felt drunk as when i got back to boarding... funny as i reckon!!

Allan Todd, the headmaster of Redlands College, on Brisbane's bayside, said he believed a blanket ban on teachers contacting students on social networking sites would be "overkill".

Mr Todd said educators who didn't mind talking to pupils outside of school hours could use the sites to field questions about looming assignments or homework.

"It expands the possibilities for engaging kids in education," he said.

Some teachers at Redlands College regularly interact with students online, with one distributing information about auditions for next year's school play via Facebook.

Mr Todd said teachers needed to be careful with anything they posted to their pages, but one benefit of such sites was that all interactions were "recorded".

"There are boundaries of appropriate conversation with kids. It doesn't matter whether it's face to face or Facebook. That's where kids converse," he said.

"(But) these conversations are more easily recorded than face-to-face conversations.

"In some ways that's a protection."

Brisbane Catholic Education was not immediately available to comment on its social networking policies.