A primary school teacher who sent inappropriate messages to a 17-year-old trainee teacher said he was doing so "in jest".

His actions showed poor professional judgment and amounted to serious misconduct, the Teaching Council's Disciplinary Tribunal Council says.

The Tribunal ordered him to be censured, have his registration suspended for four months and conditions imposed on his practising certificate.

Both teachers and the primary school have been granted permanent name suppression.


The teacher sent numerous inappropriate messages during and outside of class time, saying she should give him a massage in the back office and later that he needed a "drinking buddy" while he was housesitting.

The two taught Year 5 and 6, with the accused being the Associate Teacher to the trainee, providing feedback on her performance and setting her questions related to her university studies.

In March 2017 he messaged the trainee teacher, saying he had just emailed some answers and that "you owe me haha."

Three days later he messaged her saying "I'll claim my massage at morning tea thanks."

He referenced the "back office" on three more occasions and at a later date he suggested the two should drink alcohol at school.

They worked together from March 2017 until his resignation on May 12 that year.

Feeling extremely uncomfortable about these messages, the trainee teacher complained about his conduct in September that year.

In a decision released today, the Tribunal emphasised that the teacher held a position of authority over the trainee teacher and was able to influence her career progression.


It said the power imbalance was "particularly pronounced" due to the youth and professional inexperience of the trainee teacher, and that his messages had a clear sexual overtone.

The teacher accepted that his behaviour was inappropriate but stated that all suggestions about a massage were "in jest", as were the comments about drinking at school.

As part of his penalty, the teacher isn't allowed to hold a role supervising trainee teachers, is to be supervised by an experienced teacher and must provide his employer or prospective employer a copy of the decision made.

He is also ordered to pay $4313.32 towards the costs of the Complaints Assessment Committee and the tribunal.

This is the fourth time the accused teacher has appeared before the Complaints Assessment Committee.

On one occasion, he allegedly sent a letter to the parents of children in his class criticising the school and its management. In part, the letter related to the school's indication that he could not mentor a trainee teacher.

On other occasions it was alleged his curriculum vitae was inaccurate and that he used his cellphone in class.