Smacking case teacher had offered to resign years before

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The Independent Online
A TEACHER admonished for inviting a five-year-old boy to smack six bullies with a ruler had offered to resign several years earlier after being criticised for leaving a class unsupervised, an industrial tribunal heard yesterday.

Brenda Davies, 50, claims that she was constructively dismissed by the governors of Tennyson Road Primary school, Luton, Bedfordshire, following the ruler incident in October 1996.

Yesterday the tribunal in Bedford was told how Mrs Davies had offered her resignation some years before after leaving a drama class five minutes before home time.

The tribunal was told that she had been questioned about why she had left the class by a previous head teacher at the school.

"I left five minutes before home time," said Mrs Davies, under questioning from Judith Beale, lawyer for the school governors. "And I offered my resignation."

The tribunal was told that Mrs Davies' resignation had not been accepted.

Mrs Davies continued to insist that she had done nothing wrong in inviting the five-year-old boy to use a ruler to stand up to his tormentors.

The tribunal has heard that the child, who had special needs, had been subjected to repeated bullying incidents.

Mrs Davies made the six boys accused of tormenting their classmate stand with their hands outstretched while the five-year-old walked along tapping their palm with the ruler in front of the class.

The boys who were hit with the ruler were all aged between five and six.

Mrs Beale asked the teacher: "You still say you have done nothing wrong?"

She replied: "I do." She said she did not believe in corporal punishment in the sense of children being beaten with a cane. But she added: "I certainly don't think what I did was corporal punishment."

The tribunal has heard that Mrs Davies was given a formal written final warning about her conduct by head teacher Graeme Russell following the incident.

She said after that it became impossible for her to continue working in the school because of the unpleasant atmosphere and she resigned.

Mrs Davies yesterday told the tribunal that she felt an unofficial verbal warning would have been sufficient.

The tribunal has heard that parents of five of the six boys hit with the ruler complained to the head and asked for Mrs Davies to be punished.

She said: "I think it would have been perfectly proper to give an unofficial verbal warning 'Please Brenda, don't do this again'."

Mrs Davies alleges that Mr Russell was intimidated by the parents who complained and acted against the wishes of the governing body by formally disciplining her. The governors are contesting her claim of constructive dismissal.