Slapping A Pupil Across The Face

If you slap a pupil across the face, should you be banned from the profession?

Incredibly, it appears that you can commit common assault and be allowed to remain a teacher. You can also evade police action if a pupil and their parents don’t refer a matter to the police but leave it to the school to deal with internally.

As reported in the Tes, a former principal who slapped a pupil across the face has escaped being banned from the profession.

Frank Lewis admitted slapping a pupil once across the face in July 2017 when he was working as a Jewish studies teacher at a school in Greater Manchester.

Incredibly, the panel said it would not be recommending that a prohibition order was imposed on Mr Lewis, as there were mitigating factors.

But this is the wrong decision even if there are so-called ‘mitigating factors’.

Behaving inappropriately and/or aggressively towards a pupil is 100% wrong – there are no grey areas.

  • Even if this is an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished career, assaulting a pupil is wrong.
  • Despite glowing references regarding someone’s teaching abilities, scholarship, personal integrity, commitment, dedication and passion for teaching, assaulting a pupil is wrong.
  • Even if you do momentarily lost self- control in response to a challenging situation, assaulting a pupil is wrong.
  • One seriously has to challenge and question panel decision-making and whether panel members have the expertise to make these decisions.
  • Someone who assaults a child is never an asset to the profession in the future but a risk.  The risk of repetition might be deemed very low but this is guesswork.
  • The nature and severity of the behaviour is not at the most serious end of the spectrum but assaulting a child is a crime.

If you attack a pupil or behave aggressively towards a pupil then you are not fit to serve as a teacher entrusted with ‘loco parentis’. A teacher who does harm is a teacher who can never be trusted around children as it could happen again.

Children quite rightly should never trust a teacher who has hit another child – why on earth would they? If a child finds out that their teacher has hit another child then they are going to be frightened and trust just goes out of the window.

Children come first and teachers should ‘do no harm’.

The above example highlights that the panel’s decision making process is flawed and its decision makers are either ill-informed and do not have children’s best interests or they have their hands tied by a quality assurance framework that fails to protect children.

If children are challenging and difficult then staff should be aware of any positive handling plans (PHP) for each pupil concerned. Where there is no PHP in place then teachers should never assault a child as a response to a situation.

When a teacher’s actions fall short of the standards expected of a registered person and amount to unacceptable professional conduct and this relates to assault, that teacher has lost all trust and they should be banned.

School staff can use reasonable force to either control or restrain pupils. Under section 93 Education and Inspections Act 2006, all members of school staff have a legal power to use reasonable force….but never to assault them.

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