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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Cumbrian school teacher suspended after kicking pupil

A Cumbrian teacher has been suspended for nine months after he kicked a first year pupil in the leg, grabbed him, picked him up by the collar and shouted at him.

On the same day, Howard Snell, who had taught at Appleby Grammar School since 1984, shouted and swore at a group of year 11 girls in the library and kicked over chairs in front of them.

The General Teaching Council’s professional conduct committee found him guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct” in relation to the incident on May 20, 2009 and suspended him from the profession for nine months.

Mr Snell has not worked at the school since the incident but the GTC says his suspension is valid from the day the committee made its decision.

It found that Mr Snell had acted “in an aggressive and threatening manner” to the pupils in the library, accepting the evidence given by all three that he swore on more than one occasion, kicked over more than one chair and threw another and made them “scared”.

Mr Snell accepted he was ‘annoyed’ with the girls for missing sessions with an English consultant who had been asked to help year 11 with their revision but did not admit swearing, or kicking more than one chair.

Mr Snell admitted putting his hand on the year seven boy’s shoulder in an action of non-violent restraint in order to stop him “charging” into the room.

However, based on evidence from other pupils, the committee found that he kicked the pupil - referred to as student D - grabbed him and picked him up by the collar, pushed him against the wall and shouted at him.

It said: “By acting as he did towards students A, B and C and consequently putting them in fear and by assaulting student D he demonstrated a disregard for the safety and well-being of students at the school and a lack of professional judgement that had the potential not only to damage his own professional reputation but also the reputations of his school and the profession at large.”

The committee said it had regard to Mr Snell’s previous good character during 27 years at the school but was “concerned” that he had consistently denied the more serious aspects of his conduct and, as a result, had taken no action to remediate it.

It concluded: “Given Mr Snell’s previously unblemished record, the committee is satisfied that the events that took place on 20 May 2009 were an aberration and are unlikely to be repeated.

"In those circumstances, the committee is satisfied that his conduct, whilst extremely serious, is not so serious as to be fundamentally incompatible with being a teacher.

“It has concluded that an order of suspension for a period of nine months would be proportionate, maintain proper standards of conduct and behaviour and adequately protect the reputation of the teaching profession.”

Mr Snell has the right of appeal to the High Court within 28 days.

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