Reprimand for stab threat

Tara Fawcett

Solihull head threatened with violence by teacher after he denied her a threshold payment. Tara Fawcett reports

An English teacher has been reprimanded after threatening to stab her headteacher for refusing to give her a pay rise.

Lesley Warren, formerly of Light Hall school, in Solihull, west Midlands, was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the General Teaching Council of England.

She said that the head, Vic Scutt, deserved to die after her application for threshold payment was denied in January 2003.

Ms Warren told colleague Vincent While, her union representative, she was going to stab Mr Scutt "between the shoulder blades".

Mr While said Ms Warren, who had worked at the school since 1997, said she could get people to "sort him" (meaning the headteacher) and that she "would cut his throat". These claims were rejected by the disciplinary body.

He told the hearing in Birmingham: "She was in a state of extremely high emotion and was like a broken woman. She referred to putting a knife in between his shoulder blades and cutting his throat. She threw a chair across the room when I was there."

Mr While said he tried to calm Ms Warren down. "I asked her if she was going to be all right and she said 'Probably, but he won't be. I'll sort him'," he said.

Mr While told the committee he advised Mr Scutt to steer clear as she was an "unexploded bomb". The headteacher went to the police after learning about the threats but no charges were brought.

"Lesley had gone through a very difficult time and had had time off for stress," said Mr Scutt. "So I didn't take a statement like that lightly. I could not afford to just dismiss it."

Ms Warren was suspended immediately and resigned in March 2003.

She admitted that she had threatened to stab him in the back but had said it in the heat of the moment. "I have never denied making several rash and regrettable comments at the time when I felt under stress," she said.

"I had devoted a substantial amount of time and effort to doing my threshold folder. I was very hurt when I learned I had failed. I was dumbfounded when the police came to question me. I could not believe my throwaway comment would be taken so seriously."

Ms Warren, who now teaches at Selly Park technology college, blamed her behaviour on ill health and stress after a former colleague at the school had stalked her.

Oona Stannard, chair of the committee, said: "Ms Warren's conduct undermined the authority of the headteacher. It was not an acceptable thing to do." However, she said she was satisfied that it was an isolated incident and unlikely to recur. The committee noted that Ms Warren had apologised.

Her reprimand will remain on the teaching register for a period of two years.

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Tara Fawcett

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