Friday 8 March 2024

UK primary school teacher sacked for tapping the hand of a child!

NEWS AND COMMENT/OPINION: This is a story from the UK which concerns me deeply. It's not about cats I'm afraid but about the human condition and the way society and culture have shifted dramatically in the UK and I suspect other countries but perhaps less so than in Great Britain. It affects society generally and is relevant indirectly to cat caregiving.

In an act of what I would call - or looks like - extreme woke behaviour, a teacher in charge of child safety at a primary school in Hackney, East London accused the head teacher of assaulting her three-year-old son because she tapped him on his hand to get his attention.

I think you would agree that that is extraordinary. And to some people - particularly old people like myself - it seems absurd. When I was a youngster, we were routinely caned which by today standards would be probably be grievous bodily harm, a serious crime with up to 10 years imprisonment on conviction!

But to tap a boy on the hand to get their attention and to characterise that as an assault which ultimately led to the sacking of the head teacher is really going far too far.

The head teacher's name is Shelly-Ann Malabver-Goulbourne and the teacher who accused her of an assault (and I'm talking here of a criminal assault) is Samantha Bhagwandas.

Bhagwandas saw the incident and accused the head teacher of hurting her son. She filed a complaint which led to a police enquiry and the head teacher was suspended.

The police found that the head teacher's actions were "reasonable chastisement" but despite that reasonable assessment, Malabver-Goulbourne was sacked.

Extraordinary again! That was clearly wrong which has been confirmed by an employment tribunal which assessed the sacking on an application by Malabver-Goulbourne who sought compensation.

The court upheld the head teacher's claim and the judge noted that the school's code of conduct did not prohibit all physical contact between pupils and teachers and that there was sufficient evidence to support the view that the head was simply trying to prevent injury to a child and addressing his behaviour.

What happened was the child picked up a hand sanitiser bottle and had injected some hand sanitiser onto the floor. Previously, it is reported (The Times) he had got hand sanitiser in his eyes. His mother was concerned and as she spoke to him he turned away so she tapped him on the hand to gain his attention. Malabver-Goulbourne behaviour was entirely appropriate within the context of the history of this matter.

The court couldn't find any judgement than what they made and the teacher who accused her and reported her was really out on a limb and acting in a highly unreasonable and overly sensitive and overly-woke way in my considered view.

The story is indicative of the general mood in the UK which is why think it's important to write about it. It's a story too which must put the fear of God into many primary school teachers as to what they can do in the classroom. How can they be free to teach in a comfortable and confident way if they can't even tap the hand of a child before being accused of a criminal assault!?

I would hope that the government read this case and provide some clear, firm guidance to primary schools as to what is and what isn't allowable by way of contact between teachers and children. 

They must be allowed to touch children and sometimes handle them with a little bit of firmness but with respect in order to maintain discipline and a productive learning environment for all. 

This should not be characterised as a crime which is beyond belief.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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