Securicare have worked extensively in the education sector, with teachers to implement solutions to challenging, disruptive and violent behaviour. A case making the headlines highlights the fine legal line that sometimes has to be negotiated by teachers when responding to challenging behaviour.

Head teacher wins battle over assault claimA head teacher who was sacked for carrying an unruly pupil out of a classroom has won his unfair dismissal claim after a three-year ordeal.

David Dee was arrested and charged with common assault after picking the girl up out of her chair when she refused to leave a lesson.

He was acquitted by magistrates who ruled he had used ‘reasonable’ force, but was dismissed from his post at Cedars Park Community Primary School in Stowmarket, Suffolk, nine months later.

The 50-year-old is now in a position to claim compensation after an employment tribunal ruled that his sacking was unfair.

The pupil refused to leave the classroom and Mr Dee lifted her out of her chair. During a trial, the prosecutor said she was held horizontally under his arm ‘like a rugby ball’ for a short distance before being dropped from hip height. 

Mr Dee denied dropping her, insisting that he ‘guided’ her to the floor. He added that he would ‘never drop a child’.

Ipswich magistrates took just 40 minutes to clear him after hearing the girl had no bruises or other injuries. But school chiefs failed to lift his suspension, and he was sacked in June 2015 for gross misconduct.

Mr Dee told the tribunal hearing in Bury St Edmunds that he ‘regretted’ what had happened. 

He also accepted he had ‘gone too far’ when he told the pupil, who was ‘sitting quietly at a desk’ when he entered the room, that he was ‘more powerful than the police’.

The school governors also claimed what he did was ‘dangerous and irresponsible’.

But the tribunal, which concluded on Monday, heard it was some time after the incident that Mr Dee was ‘even asked to give his account of what happened’, and he was ‘left guessing for months’ what kind of action he would face.

The panel also expressed concerns about whether the internal investigation was ‘entirely impartial’.

Suffolk County Council declined to comment, saying the matter was ‘still subject to ongoing legal proceedings’.

The school did not respond to requests for comment. 

Securicare Director Phil Hardy says, “Challenging behaviour in schools doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s causes can be multi-factorial. These include psychological factors, such as emotional trauma or lack of social skills. Or alternatively the behaviour can arise from peer pressure or seem to be re-enforced by peer approval. Challenging behaviour can be down to environmental factors, such as classroom noise or seating arrangements, or it can also be linked to the way the class is managed such as underdeveloped lesson plans and inconsistencies in the way pupil behaviour is managed. The bottom line is that any solution will include full and through assessment and good planning…”

“Often the final piece of the jigsaw is training, which should cover classroom management, assertive communication skills and de-escalation… Safe holding skills can be covered but these should only ever be used as a last resort. As this case shows managing challenging behaviour is only part of the challenge. The ability to justify any actions is equally, if not more important. We cover all of this on our courses…”

SecuriCare offer a range of courses designed to enable individuals to deal with all facets of conflict, aggression and violence. These include ‘personal safety’, ‘conflict management’,dealing with challenging behaviour’ as well as our physical skills ‘Train the Trainers’ pathway

For more information and to discuss your unique needs: E: trainers@securicare.com or T: 01904 492442

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