Head and deputy suspended over claim of taping pupil's mouth shut

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The Independent Online

A head teacher and her deputy have been suspended over allegations that they pinned a 10-year-old boy to the ground and taped up his mouth during a school trip.

Hilary Mynott, head of Lyons Hall County Primary School in Braintree, Essex, and her deputy Chris Webb were suspended by the school's governors after claims that the pair gagged Ryan Scott with tape because he was misbehaving.

Sharon Scott, Ryan's mother, said the teachers had sat on her son and held his nose before gagging him during the week-long camping trip to Wales.

Mrs Scott refused to discuss the case yesterday, saying she did not want to jeopardise the investigation.

But a family friend said there was no excuse for teachers to have treated a child in this way. The allegations only came to light after Ryan returned from the trip and Mrs Scott asked the deputy head how her son had behaved.

"He told her Ryan had been a bit naughty so they had to tape his mouth when they were in the grounds of a castle at the start of the trip," the friend said.

"Sharon was shocked and said nothing but when she got home she asked Ryan what it was all about. He said Mrs Mynott and Mr Webb had taped his mouth shut, sat on him and held his nose.

"He said his ribs hurt after it happened and he felt sick that night."

The friend added: "It seems that Ryan had been swearing but it doesn't give teachers the right to punish him like that.

"Until now Sharon had been really happy with the school and said the two teachers had always been excellent."

Essex County Council confirmed Mrs Mynott and Mr Webb had been suspended.

A spokesman said: "There is an investigation which we are involved in, working with the governors."

However, the teaching unions said the claims showed that teachers needed more support in dealing with pupils who misbehave.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, questioned whether the experienced teachers should have been suspended before the facts were established. He said: "It really is time that people realise the enormous pressures that head teachers and their staff are under, particularly when it comes to dealing with highly disruptive pupils."

Andrew Thorndyke, the chairman of governors, informed parents of the suspensions in a letter more than three weeks ago.

He wrote: "I must stress this suspension is a neutral act and implies no guilt on the part of Mrs Mynott or Mr Webb but it will enable a full and proper investigation to be carried out in order that the complaint can be considered fully."