Sacked teacher who let children pose topless for class insists it's 'art'

17 June 2022, 13:26

An art teacher defended letting her students pose semi-naked for a class project
An art teacher defended letting her students pose semi-naked for a class project. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

An art teacher who was sacked for letting her students pose topless for a class has defended her methods and insisted 'it's art'.

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Emma Wright, 41 lost her job and was banned from the profession for two years after allowing her teenage pupils - some as young as 15 - to pose for the pictures as part of a photography class.

She has today defended herself, saying she is a "good person" and there is a "deep injustice" in the decision.

She said the work was not sexual in nature and defended it as art, The Sun reports.

"I am not the person they are making out to be," she told the paper.

She also said she had written to her MP, the union and the education minister about the issue.

However she said she is not appealing the decision because she no longer wishes to be a teacher.

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Ms Wright, a teacher of 18 years, was investigated by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) after the pictures were discovered in December 2017, although the probe was delayed because of Covid.

The images showed students making offensive gestures, wearing underwear or smoking a cigarette.

They were also pictured holding alcohol or using their hands to cover their breasts.

Mrs Write told a panel she accepted the work was "suggestive" but she had not expected students to recreate it.

She conceded she should have told pupils their images were inappropriate, but said personal and work related factors stopped her from doing so.

The TRA said her class was "highly inappropriate" and breached safeguarding rules because she did not take adequate steps when dealing with the sensitive artwork.

She was banned from teaching after Alan Meyrick, the decision maker, said Mrs Wright had seriously fallen foul of teaching standards and failed to safeguard her pupils' wellbeing.

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He said: "Whilst the panel was satisfied that there was a low risk of repetition, it did not find that Mrs Wright had fully reflected on the safeguarding implications of allowing pupils to take photographs of themselves or others in a state of undress.

"The risk of harm, due to the lack of safeguarding pupils, was a significant factor in forming that opinion.

"In my view, it is necessary to impose a prohibition order in order to maintain public confidence in the profession."

Mrs Wright, who had "previous good history", can apply against her teaching ban in 2024.

The risk of a repeat incident was deemed low by the panel.