Teaching union expresses alarm that upskirting teen was made school prefect for ‘moving image arts’

A teenage boy who was suspended from a top Northern Ireland grammar school for filming up the skirts of two of his teachers was later made a prefect of moving image arts, it has been revealed.

Friday, 1st March 2019, 4:53 pm
Updated Friday, 1st March 2019, 6:10 pm
Enniskillen Royal Grammar School's Cooper Crescent site. Pic by Google

Teaching union the NASUWT has criticised Enniskillen Royal Grammar School over its handling of the so-called “upskirting” case, claiming the school let the teachers down by not acknowledging the gravity of the situation at the outset.

Earlier this week, 18-year-old Timothy Boomer, who has since left school, was convicted of outraging public decency.

An apology released on the teenager’s behalf said he was “deeply sorry for the distress, worry and pain” he had caused, adding that he recognised his actions have had “a devastating impact” on the two teachers and his own family.

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But a panel of magistrates at Enniskillen Youth Court convicted him of five acts of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature, outraging public decency, which they described as a “humiliating” experience for his victims.

He is due to be sentenced on March 12.

Boomer was aged 14 – 16 when he secretly made five recordings of his teachers at Portora Royal School – which merged with Collegiate Grammar School in 2016 to form Enniskillen Royal Grammar – between February 2015 and September 2016.

The five recordings were found on a USB pen discovered in a classroom in November 2016. The then schoolboy later admitted it was his and that he had made the recordings.

According to the NASUWT, he was suspended for his actions in December 2016, but permitted to return to school the following month with a management plan in place.

The following year, despite his past history, he was made a prefect of moving image arts – a move which led to grievances being lodged by the union on behalf of the two teachers.

It is understood 2018 was the first year that all upper sixth pupils at the school were made prefects.

One teacher at the school, who didn’t want to be identified, said: “He could have been made a prefect of any subject he studied at A Level. He could have been made a prefect of the library or whatever, but they made him prefect of moving image arts. It was quite shocking.”

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT national official for Northern Ireland, commented: “The school knew he had videoed under the skirts of teachers, yet they still decided to make him a prefect for this subject and that has added to the hurt felt by our members.

“The school has let these teachers down. They have refused to acknowledge the gravity of the situation from early on.”

His colleague, policy and casework officer Maxine Murphy-Higgins, insists the school should have expelled Boomer for his actions.

“I think the school should issue a public apology,” she said.

The News Letter submitted a series of questions to Enniskillen Royal Grammar, including asking if the school thought it was appropriate to make Boomer a prefect of moving image arts; why he wasn’t stripped of the title or made prefect of a different subject when the teachers’ complaint was raised; and if it would be making a public apology to the two teachers.

Declining to answer the questions, school principal Elizabeth Armstrong said: “As this matter is still subject to proceedings it would not be appropriate for the school to make any comment.”