A senior nurse at a leading public school has been sacked after smacking her 10-year-old son at home.
Susan Pope, 45, was investigated by the police who decided she had done nothing wrong after she hit the boy on his bottom. But the £25,000-a-year boarding school said that because social services remained involved in the case, it could damage the school's reputation. It fired her for alleged gross misconduct. Mrs Pope, who has three children, is taking the school to an industrial tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.
The row is likely to reopen the debate about smacking children. Mrs Pope said she hit her son on the bottom after he was abusive and repeatedly swore at her. Her elder son, who was 15, called the police. Mrs Pope and her husband, Folker, a chartered surveyor, were arrested and held in a cell for 32 hours. They were released without charge and officers contacted them to say no action would be taken. However, Worcestershire social services, called when the couple were arrested, placed the 10-year-old and his younger sister, who was eight at the time, on the child protection register. Malvern St James, one of the country's leading girls' boarding schools, said it could not risk damage to its reputation if word got out that the senior nurse's children were on the register. Mrs Pope said: "I feel I have done absolutely nothing wrong and yet have seen my reputation, career and life shattered by this.
Well, whatever your feelings about West Mercia Police, or Mrs Pope's son (a little English Pavlik Morozov) and daughter, the behaviour of the Malvern St James school makes it plain that the leadership are either moral cowards - why not stand by their staff member ? - or that they have an anti-parent agenda. Rosalind Hayes, BA (Hons), MA, PGCE, FRGS should be damn well ashamed of herself.
It could be worse, however. You could send your daughter to this school.
Alison Hughes, the deputy head of the Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, was so concerned that she detailed the "catalogue of disasters" in a two-page letter to parents, warning them about the sexual activity, violent behaviour and alleged drug abuse that took place.
She wrote: "We have had to help a disturbingly high number of girls through the aftermath of having unprotected sex that evening, most of whom have told us they were too drunk to be in control of themselves. The risks are real. Assume the worst."