Teacher warned over hand smacking

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The Independent Online
A teacher who let a pupil smack a group of bullies with a ruler was given a final written warning yesterday after refusing to make a firm undertaking not to do the same again.

Brenda Davies was told at the end of a two-hour disciplinary hearing that if the incident at Tennyson Road Primary School in Luton was repeated, she could be sacked. She was removed from her infant class last week and asked to teach older children after she allowed five-year-old Joe Middleton to smack six other children on the hand.

Mrs Davies has defended her actions, and has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Shephard, to appeal for her support. Yesterday, she said that she had acted in line with the school's anti-bullying policy.

"The headmaster maintains that what I did amounted to corporal punishment. I believe my action was in the children's best interests. I love children, I do whatever is best for them," she said.

Mrs Davies has 14 days in which to decide whether to appeal against the decision. However, a statement from parents of all the children involved, including Joe Middleton, condemned her for contacting the media: "She escalated a simple playground game which had got a bit too boisterous into a major incident. We as a group of mothers are working together to heal the rifts that have now been created between our children," it said.

A spokesman for Bedfordshire County Council, one of whose officers attended the hearing with the school's headteacher, said Mrs Davies would return to school today.

t A headteacher appealed for parents' patience yesterday as his school prepared for the admission of 10-year-old Matthew Wilson, who sparked an eight-day teachers' strike at Manton Junior School, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, by staff who said he was so disruptive that they refused to teach him.

The crisis was resolved when Matthew's mother, Pamela Cliffe, finally agreed to withdraw him. Her first preference for an alternative was Worksop's St Augustine's primary school. The head, Neil Moore, acknowledged that some parents had expressed concern but said: "I have asked parents to continue to support the school by allowing us the opportunity to work with the new child moving here, safe in the knowledge that - as usual - we will work hard to ensure a high level of care and supervision for all children attending the school."