Rat-room reprimand

Andrew Wakefield

A teacher who locked a pupil in a rat-infested storeroom has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct - but told she can carry on teaching.

Pauline Hobbs, who taught at Ed-Start centre, Stoke-on-Trent, a pupil-referral unit for 11 to 14-year-olds, was issued with a reprimand which will stay on her record for two years.

England's General Teaching Council found her guilty of locking a pupil in a storeroom in September 2003, but the disciplinary hearing was not satisfied the move was intended as a sanction.

It concluded, though, that Mrs Hobbs made a conscious decision to leave the boy in the room which was inappropriate, whether the door had been closed by the pupil or by her.

The panel said it would have expected a teacher with Mrs Hobbs's experience to have acted differently.

Mrs Hobbs was cleared of three further allegations of locking a pupil and a colleague in a storeroom, keeping pupils in isolation six times in September 2003 and excluding a pupil contrary to unit policy.

She first appeared at a disciplinary hearing last month. At that hearing, Andrew Whitehead, a support worker at the centre, said: "The rooms were dangerous and terrible. There was rat poison on the floor and damp on the walls. I wouldn't be happy with my children working in that environment."

Philip Ryder, head of the mixed pupil-referral unit, said he was concerned about children's safety.

Mrs Hobbs denied the charge of unacceptable professional conduct.

She resigned from the unit in March 2004 after disciplinary action was threatened.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Andrew Wakefield

Latest stories

Geoff Barton

Omicron, nativities and the DfE: Another fine mess

Schools are being told what to do by those with no concept of the reality of running a school - and it's only making an already tough situation a lot harder, explains Geoff Barton
Geoff Barton 3 Dec 2021
New headteachers - here are 9 things you need to know

Headteacher wellbeing and sources of 'streth'

Former headteacher Chris McDermott set out to find out the true causes of leader stress and support – and in doing so coined a whole new term, as he explains here
Chris McDermott 2 Dec 2021
Transdisciplinary learning: how to embed it in your school

Why you need a transdisciplinary curriculum

At the Aspirations Academies, six hours a week are dedicated to applied transdisciplinary learning - but how does it work? And should you apply something similar at your school?
Steve Kenning 2 Dec 2021