Horndean Technology College headteacher receives threat to 'gouge her eyes out' as TikTok craze targets teachers nationwide

TEACHERS at a Horndean school have been targeted in a nationwide ‘teacher bashing’ craze on TikTok – with the head receiving a disturbing death threat.

By Richard Lemmer
Sunday, 21st November 2021, 9:08 am

Up to 10 teachers at Horndean Technology College, in Barton Cross, were targeted on the social media video platform over the last fortnight.

The craze has seen teachers nationwide impersonated, accused of being paedophiles, and even slapped.

Headteacher Julie Summerfield was called out in a video where the poster said they wanted her dead and wanted to gouge out her eyes.

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Headteacher, Julie Summerfield and student support manager, Andrea Marr with some of the students at Horndean College. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The student responsible for the video was identified, and the school’s restorative justice policy allowed staff to sanction the pupil – and understand what motivated the creation of the malicious content.

Mrs Summerfield said: ‘I asked them: “How would you feel if someone wrote that about your mother?”

‘They said they did it to get more likes and more followers.

‘What’s worrying is there are more avenue for people to be horrible and do it anonymously.

‘A lot of students don’t see it as a school issue – it’s quite a shock for people when they find out that we can do something about it.’

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Andrea Marr, the school’s celebrated anti-bullying coordinator, was also targeted by three students on the platform – with one using a photo-shopped image to paint her as homophobic.

Andrea said: ‘I have experienced three incidents of online bullying on TikTok recently.

‘One was incredibly funny – it was “the face you pull when you are called to go to Mrs Marr’s office”.

But the teacher said the others were very serious and added: ‘Someone had mocked up an image of me holding a sign saying that I hate gay people – which was incredibly hurtful.’

As part of national charity Anti-Bullying Alliance’s Anti-Bullying Week, the school held a series of assemblies to address the trend.

The assemblies are part of a wider, longstanding focus on tackling bullying and supporting other schools to get to grips with the nationwide problem.

It comes anti-bullying charities report a 20 per cent increase in hate speech and online abuse since the start of the pandemic, with students and teachers at the Horndean school agreeing the problem has become significantly worse since the last lockdown.

Madelyn Grace, a 14-year-old student at the school who is part of its dedicated equality and rights advocacy group, said: ‘Recently there has definitely been a rise in social media hate.

‘It’s something that schools and the older generation, and people in general, should be considering more.

‘It’s not just “sticks and stones may break my bones”.’

For Ms Marr, more funding is needed for schools to focus on inclusion and anti-bullying work, as well as staff dedicated to dealing with issues arising from social media.

She said: ‘Most of my time is around social media – it takes up a lot of my time now.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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