Parents fuming after son is slapped by teacher at South West school

No caption
Four-year-old Charlie Turner came home from school with marks under his arms and one on his face on April 19, 2024 -Credit:No credit

A mum and dad are furious after a teacher was let off with a warning for 'slapping' their severely autistic non-verbal four-year-old at a primary school. Katie Waller and Daniel Turner have been left appalled after their son returned home with five red marks, including a couple underneath each arm and one on his jawline.

They raised concerns with Eden Park Primary and Nursery School, in Brixham, Devon, after the incident on Friday, April 19. But the now ex-pupil's parents are 'disgusted' that an investigation into the incident resulted in the teacher receiving a 'written warning' - and nothing else.

They immediately reported it to the school and at a meeting, a week later, they were informed he had been 'slapped on the back of the hand' by a teacher. The school reported it had been a 'gentle slap' - but no explanation has been provided to Charlie's parents for the red marks that he came home with.

READ MORE: Mediterranean country a three hour flight from Bristol is perfect for summer

READ MORE: Bristol named among the best cities in the UK to visit according to science

Ofsted and the police have been made aware of the incident.

Mr Turner, from Brixham, said: "I am not happy with the action that has been taken - the teacher has not been punished, he's been given a warning? We know who the teacher is and we feel he should be arrested - but the school are protecting themselves and it is sickening."

Dan and Katie have now pulled Charlie out of the school, and the young boy is currently awaiting to receive an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) - which means he will hopefully be able to attend Mayfield School, in Torquay.

Though the slap has not made a lasting mark, Dan says his boy has been "emotionally and mentally" impacted by the event.

Dan said: "Charlie has Global Developmental Delay, so his mental age is 12 months old.

"He is non-verbal and doesn't communicate, and when he was first diagnosed with autism he used to pinch and scratch but we got him out of that about a year and a half ago.

"But this week he smacked me on the hand - he hasn't done that in so long and I nearly broke down in tears."

The incident occurred when Charlie was having a chat with his one-to-one assigned teacher on 19 April.

Dan explained: "Last Friday we were told Charlie had been in the sensory room the previous Friday - as he was having a one-to-one.

"He must have been over stimulated and his one-to-one was calming him down.

"Then suddenly another member of staff comes into the room, and Charlie swiped him to say 'move, you are too close to me for comfort'. And is when he was smacked by the teacher."

Dan says he believes the police are calling the teacher in question into the station for a 'voluntary interview', but the parents are calling for more 'serious' action.

And he said he was far from happy with the outcome.

He added: "If that was any Dom Dick and Harry they would have been arrested, but because they are a teacher they are doing a volunteer interview.

"People need to be aware of this - it is completely wrong. They've just been given a warning and it is going on their record and their going to attend a training course?

"What training course is gonna change your mind to hit a child - it's not going to correct a brain wave. They think a gentle slap is OK?

"What happens if next time it is a harder slap?

"Even more frustrating is the unexplained marks? We emailed the school when we found out and they knew this had happened that whole time.

"The school were aware of my boy being so dysregulated all week - they should of told us an investigation was going on but they kept it from us.

"I would have expected the school to be ringing me documenting what my boy has been going through! But nothing."

Dan says Charlie has been left very distressed.

He added: "Charlie just didn't want to go into school, he wasn't eating, he has been spitting his medication out - waking up in the middle of the night screaming and kicking."

In a letter sent by headteacher Benjamin Wallis to Katie, dated April 29, it recounts a summary of the conversation she had with Charlie's one-to-one about the incident and the school's subsequent actions.

The letter said: "She shared in her own words that a member of staff had 'slapped Charlie on the back of the hand'. [The one-to-one] informed you this was reported immediately to the headteacher who then reported it to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).

"You were informed that as part of this process, the events were reclarified with Charlie's one-to-one and the staff member was spoken to.

"The staff member was made clear that the school does not accept nor condone this behaviour and it was in breach of our policies and way of working.

"It is important to note that the staff member did not dispute the accusation and was incredibly remorseful.

"In line with LADO advice, the staff member was issued a written warning which would go on their personal file and the school will provide further training."

Details were also provided of a meeting Katie and Daniel had at the school, including with the headteacher, last Friday, April 26.

The letter continued: "The LADO confirmed that the school had taken all of the correct steps and the incident did not meet the threshold to be considered a police or other matter. To clarify, the event was a 'gentle slap' on the back of the hand.

"In clarifying this, we are not stating we find this acceptable, and still take this very seriously. However, it is to ensure all are clear as to the events of the incident.

"Even though the incident did not leave a mark and Charlie showed no upset at the time, it is still unacceptable and therefore appropriate action has already been taken.

"The school shares its sincere apologies that this happened and hopes you know we take this matter seriously and have followed all processes required, being open and honest at all stages."

In a statement Mr Wallis said: "We are aware of negative posts about an unfortunate event at the school, circulating on social media."

"Eden Park Primary takes the safety of all children and staff very seriously.

"The event that occurred is very unfortunate, regretful and has already been reported to the correct authorities by the school.

"To date, the authorities involved have confirmed that the school has taken the necessary steps to manage the matter.

"The staff and school will engage in any investigation and take appropriate steps recommended."