School memories posted on website upset teachers

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Adults who want to relive the drudgery of double maths and the ecstasies of childhood bonding have found a new best friend in a popular school reunion website, except that the trip down memory lane is taking on a malicious twist, according to concerned teachers.

Adults who want to relive the drudgery of double maths and the ecstasies of childhood bonding have found a new best friend in a popular school reunion website, except that the trip down memory lane is taking on a malicious twist, according to concerned teachers.

Friendsreunited.co.uk has 40,000 UK schools listed, and more than 2.5 million people – 20,000 new names a day – have registered to relive the experience of school from a safe distance. But many former pupils are apparently using the website to settle old scores.

Dozens of teachers have complained that they have been accused of alcoholism, violence or paedophilia on the website and are demanding the removal of scurrilous contributions. The National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) say they are monitoring the situation with a view to taking legal action.

Yesterday, "memories" posted on the site included anecdotes about beatings and rude comments about teachers. Among these was one of a huge, "cross-eyed" English teacher who "whacked you" for disobedience, and another who carried a gym shoe and was known for his phrase: "Bend down, touch your toes and see what God will send you." Memories of the famous include one of Paula Yates who was "always getting into trouble ... [and] she got expelled".

The website, set up by Julie and Steve Pankhurst, has become increasingly popular since its inception last October.

However, the NAHT has become concerned at potentially libellous comments after receiving 12 complaints since September. As a result, a "report abusive message" button has been installed on the site.

Mr Pankhurst said abusive messages would be immediately removed and any attempt at legal redress assisted.

But David Hart, the NAHT general secretary, said: "If the allegations of alcoholism, violence and paedophilia ... continue [then] clearly we would have to consider further action."

Comments