Housemistress demoted after 'sexual banter' with pupil, tribunal hears

Housemistress demoted after 'sexual banter' with pupil, tribunal hears

September 26, 2023

Housemistress at £42k-a-year public school was demoted after engaging in ‘sexual banter’ with female student while escorting her to medical appointment, tribunal hears

  • Jocelyn D’Arcy later resigned and sued Rugby School, claiming discrimination

A HOUSEMISTRESS at Rugby School was demoted after she engaged in ‘sexual banter’ with a girl pupil and gave alcohol to sixth-formers.

Jocelyn D’Arcy was escorting the girl to a medical appointment and was said to have joked that the pupil ‘wouldn’t mind being alone with the doctor’ and then advised that ‘if he asks if you are sexually active, say no, but I’d like to be’.

The Oxford, Cambridge and MIT-educated maths teacher faced 19 misconduct allegations in her first two months at the leading public school, an employment tribunal heard.

This included causing ‘fear and distress’ among a group of 14-year-olds when she asked one of them to remove her top and angrily threw a mobile phone. She also entered a pupil’s room and threw her laundry into a hallway, and served sixth formers alcohol.

She was suspended by the school and eventually removed from the housemistress role, the tribunal was told. She later resigned and sued Rugby, claiming discrimination and saying her behaviour was the result of suffering from ADHD, anxiety and depression.

A housemistress at £42,000-a-year Rugby School (pictured)was demoted after engaging in ‘sexual banter’ with a female student while escorting her to a medical appointment, an employment tribunal heard

However, the vast majority of her case was dismissed, with the tribunal concluding she had exercised ‘poor judgment’ which ‘seriously called into question her suitability for the housemistress role’.

The panel cited ‘several serious errors of judgment including around sex and alcohol’.

Rugby School, in Warwickshire, dates back to the 16th Century and is one of the best-known public schools, charging boarders more than £42,000 a year. It was where the novel Tom Brown’s School Days was set and where pupil William Webb Ellis reputedly invented the game that bears its name. The tribunal in Birmingham was told that before joining Rugby in September 2020, Ms D’Arcy had been a successful maths teacher in a number of ‘well-regarded schools’.

She was appointed as housemistress of Southfield, the school’s house for day girls, the first pastoral role in her career.

Jocelyn D’Arcy sued Rugby School (pictured), claiming discrimination because her behaviour was caused by suffering from ADHD , anxiety and depression

However, within her first month she clashed with her deputy, who she accused of undermining her, a report by the tribunal said. In November that year the school received complaints about her conduct one lunchtime with a group of 14-year-old girls.

These included allegations that she had ‘asked one to remove her top’, had ‘thrown a mobile phone and folder in anger’ and ‘accused a student of lying’.

‘It was alleged that, as a result, this had caused distress and fear among the girls,’ the tribunal said. She was suspended for ‘verbally and physically threatening behaviour’ and the school began an investigation during which other allegations were made. They included the claim about ‘sexual banter’ with a pupil.

She quit and sued the school for disability discrimination and harassment, unfair dismissal, victimisation and unfair treatment.

The tribunal dismissed almost all of her claims. It did uphold one relating to the manner in which the school rejected her grievance claim. Any compensation will be decided at a later hearing.

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