Wales

Newport Maes Ebbw teaching assistant tied girl to chair

Maes Ebbw School Image copyright Jaggery / Geograph

A teaching assistant tied a six-year-old to a chair at a Newport special needs school, a hearing has been told.

The Education Workforce Council hearing in Cardiff was told Annette Henderson was a learning support worker at Maes Ebbw School when the incident happened on 26 January 2016.

She admitted tying the child, who has additional learning needs, to the chair using the sleeves of a hooded top.

But she denied her behaviour amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.

Presenting officer Patrick Llewelyn described "Pupil A" as a young girl who did not communicate verbally. He said the child had previously hit out at other pupils.

Another teaching assistant, Tom Green, said he saw Pupil A approach another girl and "anticipated she was going to attack her" so he distracted her.

He said he did not notice Pupil A approach the girl again but saw Mrs Henderson lead her to an adult swivel chair.

Mr Green said she sat Pupil A on the chair and tied the arms of a hooded jacket on the back of the chair "in a double knot under her arms so she could still use them but she would have been unable to get off the chair".

He said the bell rang "moments later" and Mrs Henderson left the room, and another teaching assistant, Susan Ainscough, untied Pupil A.

'Absolutely shocked'

Giving evidence, Mrs Henderson admitted to sitting the child on the chair, but denied using a double knot.

Asked why she had done it, she said Pupil A was pushing the chair away from the table and spinning around.

"I didn't want her falling," she said.

"I know it looks bad, it wasn't done maliciously, it was not done as a restraint, it was done from a safety point of view."

Mr Green said Pupil A was tied to the chair for "two minutes maximum" and was her usual self afterwards - "smiling, happy and laughing".

Mrs Ainscough said she was in the classroom minutes before she noticed Pupil A was sitting on the chair.

She told the hearing she was "absolutely shocked" and "knew it was not correct procedure to tie a pupil to a chair".

'Tied tightly'

She said the knot was "not tight in that it was digging in, but she could not have got out if she wanted to".

Mrs Ainscough said she untied her immediately, adding: "It took some time, it was tied tightly."

She also spoke of friction between Mrs Henderson and Mr Green and between Mrs Henderson and herself.

She said Mrs Henderson was "not very pleasant at times" to Mr Green.

"I think he realised perhaps he should have stopped it happening but the way Mrs Henderson had been with him he felt he couldn't challenge her about it."

But Mrs Henderson she had not been aware of any tensions between herself and the other teaching assistants.

Deputy head teacher Mark Evans said Mrs Henderson's actions were "not in line with school policy".

He said it was not a recognised intervention and was not "reasonable, proportionate or in the best interests of the child".

He said training which Mrs Henderson had taken part in was 95% de-escalation skills and 5% physical intervention.

He said the training had not been followed in this incident.

The hearing continues.

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