Exclusive: Art teacher who headbutted pupil prohibited from teaching five years after accepting caution over school incident

 

A teacher who violently assaulted a child in the classroom was given a criminal record for the attack but only faced a National College for Teaching & Leadership (NCTL) hearing about the incident five years later, The Independent can reveal.

Mark Lonnie, 53, was working at a secondary school for children with behavioural difficulties when, “acting under duress”, he headbutted a boy so hard the child suffered a chipped tooth and a bloodied mouth and nose.  

The teacher was initially cleared last month to resume teaching by the NCTL’s Professional Conduct Panel.  However, Michael Gove has now stepped in to overrule the decision and ban Mr Lonnie from teaching. It is only the second time the Education Secretary has gone against the National College for Teaching and Leadership’s (NCTL) professional conduct panel and banned a teacher from the profession.

The incident happened in 2009 when a boy, who had been removed from the classroom after misbehaving, returned and became aggressive.  Mr Lonnie reacted by headbutting him . Mr Lonnie subsequently received a caution for assault, and weeks later was sacked from his job as an art teacher at Wilds Lodge School in Leicestershire.

Yet six months later, an Ofsted social care inspection of the residential school for boys with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties praised “excellent relationships between the students and staff” and claimed: “Physical intervention is used as a last resort and is carried out appropriately and only to ensure the safety of students and staff.”

In a statement, an Ofsted spokesperson said: “In similar circumstances today we would refer to this serious incident in our inspection report.”

The case was not heard by the NCTL, which regulates teachers, until last month – five years after it had taken place. The report by its professional conduct panel, released last week, described how the pupil had become “very angry” and “verbally abused” Mr Lonnie.

“Pupil A pushed Mr Lonnie in the chest using both of his hands, in response, Mr Lonnie headbutted Pupil A,” it says. The teacher admitted his actions amounted to “unacceptable professional conduct and/or conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute”, according to the report.

The sacked teacher was able in principle to continue working with children despite accepting a criminal caution for assault on a pupil, although The Independent understands that he had not in fact done so in the years after the incident. But he recently “managed to obtain work as a supply teacher,” says the report.

Although the panel found him “guilty of unacceptable professional conduct” and concluded his actions “constitute conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute”, it noted he had “acted under duress [and] under genuine fear that an attack was imminent”.  The panel argued he was not “a threat to pupils” and “did not consider that it was in the public interest to make a prohibition order”.

In a statement on the Education Secretary’s behalf, NCTL official Paul Heathcote said: “In my view the panel has not sufficiently balanced the mitigation with the level of violence that resulted in a bloodied nose and a chipped tooth to a pupil. I have decided that a prohibition order is an appropriate and proportionate sanction in the public interest.”

Mr Lonnie could not be reached for comment, but Robin Lee, principal of Wilds Lodge, said: “Mr Lonnie was dismissed from Wilds Lodge School in June 2009. The school reported the matter to the police and the local Child Protection agencies at the time.”

He added: “We did wonder why the school was not asked to attend the NCTL’s disciplinary panel hearing last week, given the seriousness of the matter.” And he said Mr Gove’s decision to over-rule the panel and ban Mr Lonnie from teaching “did not come as a great surprise”.

* This article has been amended.  It originally implied that Mr Lonnie had continued to teach in the years after the incident which led to his sacking.  In fact, he did not work with children until taking up some supply teaching shortly before the NCTL panel hearing.  The piece also stated that Mr Lonnie had been arrested prior to receiving a caution in 2009.  In fact, we understand that he was not arrested.  In addition, the item was originally accompanied by a  stock image of a primary age child who appeared upset and meek.  The child involved in the incident being reported was a teenager at a secondary school for children with behavioural difficulties.  The NCTL panel noted that the child was physically larger than Mr Lonnie and that Mr Lonnie had acted under genuine fear of “imminent attack”.  The image has been removed and the text updated to reflect additional details about the incident. (11 July 2014)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?