Headteacher, 50, who attacked autistic boy, 6, over broken bracelet avoids ban

A headteacher who beat a six-year-old school pupil in the playground has been allowed to stay in the profession.

Colleagues watched on as Rhian Welsh, 50, assaulted an autistic boy who had broken her bracelet as she tried to stop him misbehaving.

Dudley Magistrates’ Court found the headteacher guilty of assault in August 2019 and handed her a year-long community order, Metro reports.

On April 28 last month, a Teaching Regulation Agency panel found Welsh guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, after hearing how she slapped the boy on the shoulder during a "spur of the moment, volatile and fast-moving situation".

Despite being dismissed by Tenterfields Primary Academy in Halesowen, West Midlands, the panel agreed to let Welsh continue working as a teacher due to her "exceptional contribution to the profession".

Chair of the panel Paul Hawkins said: "The panel finds that the conduct of Mrs Welsh fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession.

"Given Mrs Welsh’s insight into her conduct, her deep reflections, true remorse, and noting that this was an isolated, fast-moving incident, involving an exceptionally challenging pupil, the panel did not consider there to be any ongoing risk.

"There was no evidence to suggest pupils or anyone else would require protection in future from Mrs Welsh as a result of this one-off and momentary incident."

An anonymous reference read out at the hearing said: "Rhian was a trailblazer in education… I truly believe that it would be a huge loss to education if Rhian was not able to continue enriching the lives of many more children."

At the time of the attack on November 22 2018, the child was throwing chairs and cushions around a room, ignoring Welsh's orders to stop.

She then led him to the playground where her colleague was punched after they tried to put his coat on, which was a hit Welsh had previously suffered from the same child.

The boy began throwing plastic rings at a glass door and in refusing to stop he then broke Welsh's beaded reiki bracelet, leading her to hit him on the shoulder.

The headteacher's attempt to overturn a 12-month community order, 80 hours of unpaid work and payment of £1,000 in court costs, was dismissed in 2019.

At the panel last month, Mr Hawkins continued: "We did not consider Mrs Welsh’s actions to be deliberate, calculated or pre-planned; rather, she found herself in a volatile and fast-moving situation and made a split-second decision which many others may also have taken in that moment.

"Mrs Welsh did not seek to excuse her actions and she readily accepted full responsibility. She explained the context of the incident and clearly reflected at great length as to how she might have acted differently.

"‘The panel was of the view that Mrs Welsh had made an exceptional contribution to the schools and communities in which she served, her pupils and the profession.’"

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