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Parents' smear campaign fails

A teacher accused of shouting at children until they cried has been cleared by the General Teaching Council for England.

Danuta Pierce, who had taught at St Martin's Church of England primary in Folkestone, Kent, since September 1991, was found not guilty of unacceptable professional conduct at the hearing in Birmingham.

She appeared at the hearing on Monday to deny charges of causing children emotional distress after being the subject of a number of verbal and written complaints between December 1997 and March 2002.

Afterwards Mrs Pierce said: "I am delighted common sense has prevailed and the charges against me were dismissed as rubbish.

"These proceedings have taken two years out of my life and have crippled me financially. I hope that I will be able to continue my teaching career."

She is now moving away from the Folkestone area for a fresh start.

Mrs Pierce used to take her Year 3 pupils for literacy hours in the park and gave them art classes on the beach.

She told The TES: "I got much joy out of teaching children and tried to be innovative in my methods to allow children to develop to their full potential.

"I believe that children had a lot of fun and laughter in my classes while they were learning."

Mrs Pierce believes she was the victim of a smear campaign by the parents and said they often blamed others for their children's behaviour.

She told the GTC: "It is my experience that parents who are going through marriage break-ups and having problems with their children don't want to be seen as the cause of it. Parents like to shift the blame.

"I don't accept the description of my classroom as a climate of fear. I felt that children were often disappointed to leave my class."

The GTC heard of two thank-you letters she had been sent by parents.

She denied allegations that she had called a child stupid, screwed up work, slammed doors in pupils' faces and berated children in front of the headteacher.

Mrs Pierce said prolonged throat and chest problems had left her in poor health, making claims by headteacher Wynne Robins that she could hear her shouting through the neighbouring classroom wall unrealistic.

"I could not have shouted even if I had wanted to, which I didn't," she said.

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