Stevenage head charged with assault ‘over-reacted’

A headteacher who was cautioned by police after he lifted a pupil above his head and shook him, has been spared punishment by his professional body.

David Morton, former head at Moss Bury Primary School and Nursery in Stevenage, was deemed to be guilty of “unacceptable” professional behaviour towards a Year Four pupil in May 2008 by the General Teaching Council’s (GTC) Professional Conduct Committee this week. But the committee stopped short of imposing sanctions against Dr Morton, ruling that he had “simply over-reacted”.

Dr Morton was charged with common assault by police following the incident and given a caution on October 29, 2009. He was suspended by the school during the investigation.

“Behaviour such as that demonstrated by Dr Morton in the incident betrays a lack of measure and control in how he responded to the safety implications posed by a child kicking a glass door,” the committee said.

“In behaving as he did Dr Morton failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of a child who was under his supervision, contrary to the Code of Conduct and Practice for Registered Teachers.

“It lasted a few seconds. It was an isolated incident. There was no evidence of any harm occasioned to the pupil concerned. Neither the pupil concerned, nor his parents lodged any complaints.

“This was a situation in which Dr Morton was right to act - he simply over-reacted.”

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The committee heard that Dr Morton joined the school in January 2006 when it was about to be placed in special measures. By the time he resigned in November 2009 it had been assessed as outstanding.

It also took into account excellent references and testimonials from parents, fellow teachers and employers.

“In the light of this material and the fact that this was a moment of self-forgetfulness in the context of an incident which warranted his intervention, the committee considers that it would not be appropriate to impose a sanction,” the committee said.

“The public has an interest in the GTC prosecuting teachers who are guilty of unacceptable professional behaviour, but likewise it has an interest in the teaching profession attracting the best quality teachers.

“Dr Morton accepted a caution which has in effect damaged his career as a head teacher. The imposition of a sanction is neither necessary nor appropriate.”

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