A headteacher who attacked an autistic pupil in a school playground has not been banned from the profession.
Rhian Welsh, 50, assaulted the six-year-old boy in front of colleagues after he broke her bracelet while she was trying to stop him misbehaving.
Welsh was later convicted of assault by beating after being found guilty at Dudley Magistrates Court in August 2019 and she was given a community order of a year.
A Teaching Regulation Agency panel has now found Welsh guilty of unacceptable professional conduct following a hearing.
But she has been allowed to remain a teacher due to her ‘exceptional contribution to the profession’.
A panel on April 28 heard how Welsh, of Halesowen in the West Midlands, slapped the child on the shoulder during a ‘spur of the moment, volatile and fast-moving situation’.
She was dismissed from her role at Tenterfields Primary Academy, which she has held since 2016, after the incident.
Chair of the panel Paul Hawkins ruled: ‘In this case, the panel has found the proven facts amount to unacceptable professional conduct.
‘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.
‘Throughout the hearing, Mrs Welsh displayed genuine remorse and repentance for her conduct.’
He added the panel considered her ‘depth of insight’ about how the incident had affected the community and the ‘positive character evidence’ submitted on her behalf.
Character references read out to the hearing quoted Welsh as being ‘highly regarded’ in the teaching community and also ‘passionate about the school and its pupils’.
One anonymous reference said: ‘Rhian had an extremely positive relationship with local schools and the local authority, she was well respected and was frequently called upon for advice and support.’
Another character reference read: ‘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.’
Mr Hawkins added: ‘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.’
He said there was ‘significantly more weight’ in favour of keeping her in the teaching profession than stopping her from teaching.
The hearing was further told how Welsh had first tried to talk to the child, who was throwing chairs and cushions around a room on November 22, 2018.
This did not work, so she led him outside into the playground where her colleague was punched after they tried to put his coat on.
Welsh, who had been punched by this particular child before, then tried to stop him from throwing plastic rings at a glass door.
He then broke her beaded reiki bracelet and she hit the boy in the shoulder.
Welsh was given a 12-month community order, 80 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay £1,000 in court costs.
She attempted to overturn both her dismissal and her conviction in 2019, but both were dismissed.
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