- Three classroom assistants made-up that Highland teacher treated 8 Jul 2016
- Teacher vilified by false claims she treated pupil like a dog 7.7.16
- Teaching assistants launched a ‘campaign of harassment’ 7 July 2016
A teacher has been cleared of accusations that she mistreated a pupil at a Highland school.
Lesley Cooper was alleged to have called the boy at St Duthus School in Tain a “puppy”, whistled at him and told him to “sit”.
A General Teaching Council for Scotland
panel said three pupil support assistants had “colluded in fabricating a
false complaint” against Ms Cooper. A temporary restriction order on the teacher has been removed.
Highland Council-run St Duthus School caters or pupils with severe, complex and profound additional support needs.
‘Tense’ atmosphere A hearing held into the allegations against Ms Cooper heard claims that she had been frustrated by the behaviour of the boy.
It was alleged the teacher repeatedly
acted in an inappropriate manner and used excessive force. It was
allegedly that she told the pupil: “You’re going to be my puppy”. The
panel heard evidence from teaching staff, including the head teacher,
and Vivienne Fraser, Fiona Smith and Kirsty Bonthrone, the pupil support
assistants (PSAs) who made the complaint.
The PSAs claimed that their input on
handling pupils would be overruled leading to the atmosphere between
them and teaching staff becoming “tense”.
In a newly-released outcome following
the hearing, the panel sai d it rejected the evidence of the PSAs about
the alleged conduct of Ms Cooper.
The panel said: “Far from demonstrating
that a teacher had acted deplorably in a relation to a young pupil with
additional support needs, the panel found that the evidence showed that a
group of PSAs mounted a sustained campaign of harassment and
vilification against the teaching staff at the school to the extent that
it caused the suspension of the Head Teacher and the respondent by
“The panel heard evidence that members
of the core group of PSAs were responsible for undermining the teaching
plans and instructions of the teachers and that this extended more
recently to supply teachers.” SOURCE
- Special needs teachers charged over “mistreatment” 14 Mar 2013
- Two members of staff at St Duthus special school arrested 14/03/13
- Mother is keeping son, 6, at home for his own safety 8/2/13
- ‘Disgraceful’ state of special needs school | Northern Times 24/1/13
TEACHER VILIFIED 7 July 2016
A teacher accused of treating a pupil like a dog has been cleared by the teaching authority.
The General Teaching Council
Scotland (GTCS) said there had been a “campaign of harassment and
vilification” against teaching staff by three pupil support assistants
Lesley Cooper worked as a teacher at St Duthus School in Tain, a school for children with additional support needs.
After a three-day hearing, the GTCS
ruled there was no evidence to support the claims she had acted
inappropriately and used excessive force against a pupil.
Ms Cooper had been accused of referring to a boy as a puppy, whistling at him and telling him to “sit”.She was also accused of pulling the boy, grabbing him by his clothing and shaking him
The panel ruled the three PSAs who claimed to have witnessed the incident had fabricated the story.
In its report, the panel said: “The
panel found that the three PSAs had colluded in fabricating a false
complaint against the respondent and rejected their evidence about the
The panel heard evidence from Vivienne Fraser, Fiona Smith and Kirsty Bonthrone, the PSAs who made the complaint, as well as the head teacher Joep Eggermont, who had been suspended after allegations by the same PSAs. Supporting
evidence was also given by teachers Mr Eggermont, Janice MacLennan,
Yvonne Jackson, other members of staff and a parent. So thats 6 different people??
The panel concluded: “Far
from demonstrating that a teacher had acted deplorably in a relation to
a young pupil with additional support needs, the panel found that the
evidence showed that a group of PSAs mounted a sustained campaign of
harassment and vilification against the teaching staff at the school to
the extent that it caused the suspension of the head teacher and the
respondent by Highland Council.” The
panel said it had heard two different accounts, one from the PSAs and
another from four registered teachers at the school, the head teacher
and Ms Cooper.
Ms Cooper’s position had been that she
had used simple commands to deal with a child with challenging behaviour
but had never referred to him as a puppy or whistled at him.
The GTCS said: “The
allegations set out in the complaint raised very serious concerns
which, if proved, would be expected to have very significant
consequences for the respondent’s registration as a teacher. Not
only that, but the alleged conduct raised very serious child protection
concerns. The panel accepted the evidence of Mr Eggermont, Mrs
MacLellan and Mrs Jackson that the respondent was a very professional
and caring teacher. The panel rejected the evidence of Ms Bonthrone, Mrs
Fraser and Mrs Smith as inherently lacking credibility. It seemed clear
to the panel that the three PSAs came to the hearing with the intent to
further damage the character and reputation of the respondent rather
than to give genuine and objective evidence of events which had actually
occurred and which they had witnessed.”
The panel noted while it was not
known if Highland Council had taken steps to address concerns at the
school, its own role was only to investigate the complaint about Ms
Cooper. The GTCS panel said it had no power to cause further investigation into the circumstances surrounding the complaint.
Head joep eggermont facebook twtr
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