A Suffolk parent has defended a former headteacher who was struck off for professional misconduct, saying he was a "kind, wise and considerate" man.

Odran Doran, former headteacher of the Bridge School in Ipswich, was banned from teaching after a panel found he restricted the movement of one or more pupils by locks and instructed one or more pupils to be detained in circumstances when it was not appropriate.

But Felixstowe mum Geraldine Claydon said Mr Doran was “an incredible help” to her now 29-year-old daughter Cheryth, during her primary education at Heathside School.

Cheryth lives with autism, severe learning disability, and hypotonia (decreased muscle tone).

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Ms Claydon said she was “sickened” to hear of Mr Doran’s suspension in 2017.

She said: “Mr Doran was an incredible help to me with Cheryth from the age of four to 11. He taught us skills of how to help her, and encouraged the use of symbols, which in those days was unknown.

“He equipped us as parents and gave Cheryth an excellent primary school education which has set her up for life.

East Anglian Daily Times: Geraldine Claydon with her 29-year-old daughter Cheryth.Geraldine Claydon with her 29-year-old daughter Cheryth. (Image: Claydon family)

“He went to every length possible to help his pupils. He’s a very kind man, a very wise man, and went all out to help his pupils as much as possible.

“SEND in Suffolk has really suffered in recent years. I believe this is a very negative outcome.”

Allegations that Mr Doran was guilty of misconduct was brought before a Teaching Regulation Agency professional conduct panel, and he was found guilty at a hearing last month.

It was alleged that Mr Doran had engaged in “professional and/or aggressive behaviour on one or more occasions towards one or more pupils” in that he allowed movement to be restricted by locks, and instructed restraint in “circumstances when it was not appropriate”.

These concerned his time as headteacher and associate headteacher of the Bridge School between September 1988 and August 2018.

East Anglian Daily Times: Geraldine Claydon says she owes Mr Doran for her daughter's quality of life now.Geraldine Claydon says she owes Mr Doran for her daughter's quality of life now. (Image: Claydon family)

Mr Doran denied the allegations save for the locks on doors, admitting that he had allowed the movement of one or more pupils to be restricted by secure mechanisms and/or locks.

Evidence was given during proceedings that there were a number of  “calming rooms” at the primary and secondary Bridge School sites, which Mr Doran said existed to create a safe space for particular pupils who could act violently and aggressively.

The rooms were intentionally bleak to help pupils de-escalate, but a beanbag was provided for the pupil to sit on, and a member of staff would have observed the pupil through a vision panel in the door.

Mr Doran admitted that the doors to the calming rooms were occasionally locked for the safety of staff and other pupils.

East Anglian Daily Times: Odran Doran, who was headteacher at The Bridge School for around 20 years, has been suspended since October 2017.Odran Doran, who was headteacher at The Bridge School for around 20 years, has been suspended since October 2017. (Image: Gregg Brown)

Ms Claydon added: “I do think calming rooms with locks are what you may call reasonable adjustment, which is what is used to enable a person with learning disability to cope.

“I have observed how quickly two young pupils could become quite violent. Mr Doran would have had to pre-empt this.

“I believe it would have been done to protect the students and staff. His skills and expertise should have been honoured and allowed to flourish and benefit the SEND community.

“This suspension appears to stem from great ignorance of the real issues faced by students with learning disabilities and their staff.”

East Anglian Daily Times: The Bridge School in Ipswich.The Bridge School in Ipswich. (Image: Gregg Brown)

While it was also argued that his actions were motivated by a desire to not permanently exclude his pupils, the panel considered the behaviour against guidance.

Guidance issued for staff working with young people with learning disability and autism spectrum disorders says it is an offence to lock an adult or child in a room without a court order, unless in an emergency.

The panel found the former headteacher guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

Mr Odran was banned from teaching in a prohibition order that he may apply to be removed after five years.