Teacher must pay £30 compensation for biting three-year-old

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The Independent Online

A teacher at an independent preparatory school who bit a three-year-old boy to teach him a lesson for biting another pupil was given a conditional discharge yesterday.

Mary-Ann Woodeson, 49, bit the boy on the arm after an older pupil complained that the toddler had bitten him on the back in the playground at Stretton School, Norwich, in July. She had found the eight-year-old boy crying and decided to teach the younger child his behaviour was unacceptable, Norwich magistrates were told. The teacher pulled the three-year-old towards her and bit him. A school spokesperson said then that the little boy's arm was treated with witch hazel and ice and he was given a cake. But his mother saw his arm was bruised and swollen and complained to the school.

Woodeson, a teacher for 19 years who has four children, resigned from the £1,650-a-year school and wrote a letter of apology to the boy's family. But she was charged with common assault after his mother complained to the police. She admitted the charge yesterday.

Jonathan Brock, for the defence, said it was a "reckless act" but was not premeditated. He added: "The only thing that was in her mind was to make a gesture towards a child and make him appreciate that it was not suitable behaviour."

Woodeson, of Scarning near Dereham, Norfolk, has arthritis and appeared in court in a wheelchair. She is on disability benefit. She was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £30 compensation to the boy and £35 towards prosecution costs.

The mother of the three-year-old boy and the head- teacher, Yvonne Barnett, who is also Mrs Woodeson's mother, refused to comment yesterday. Earlier this year Mrs Barnett defended her daughter, saying she had only been pretending to bite the boy and her teeth had accidentally touched his arm when he had suddenly pulled away. She said: "We feel it has been blown up out of all proportion."

The school, which was founded by Mrs Barnett in 1969, was praised by Ofsted inspectors last year. It has 110 children aged from two to nine, many of them with parents working at the nearby Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.