Stowmarket: Teacher suspended after using ‘inappropriate force’ to restrain pupil

A DEPUTY headteacher at a Stowmarket primary school has been suspended for six months by her professional body after she used “inappropriate force” to restrain a pupil at the top of a flight of stairs.

The General Teaching Council’s Professional Conduct Committee found Eileen Ellis “guilty of unacceptable professional conduct” while employed at Chilton Community Primary Foundation School.

The committee found that, despite advice and guidance being provided to her, she acted in an inappropriate manner towards a pupil, referred to as Pupil A, on April 11, 2008, “jeopardising his health, safety or well-being” by using inappropriate force when pulling him by the wrist, encouraging a colleague to use inappropriate force and restraining him at the top of a flight of stairs.

It said she acted in contravention of the school’s Risk Assessment/Behaviour Support Plan in respect of the pupil.

The committee’s report said: “Ms Ellis agrees that she knew that the school had risk assessments and strategies for responding to Pupil A’s behaviour but did not request sight of, or follow these. Under (Pupil A’s) risk assessment dated 30 January 2008, restraint was to be avoided if at all possible. Shouting, confrontation and sudden or unnecessary changes in routine were also to be avoided.

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“Ms Ellis agrees that she did not use other strategies before using physical intervention. She did try to persuade him by talking to him first.”

The report continued: “Ms Ellis’s conduct falls short of the standard expected of a registered teacher, and it amounts to unacceptable professional conduct.”

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Committee members said that they bore in mind Ms Ellis’s previous good character, and that the incident which gave rise to the allegation occurred when she had recently returned from sick leave, and was obliged to stand in for the headteacher when both the headteacher and the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator were away from the school.

The report said: “She felt she needed to make a swift decision about how to act. She was not provided with updated risk assessments, but knew that they existed and failed to ask for them.

“The Committee has taken into account that although there may have been no serious or lasting injury, the well-being of Pupil A was affected.”

Ms Ellis has a right of appeal to the High Court within 28 days.

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