Could we all end up in court?

17th August 2001 at 01:00
What happened to Cheshire teacher Catherine Brandley is a disgrace ("Schools losing power to courts, say unions", TES, August 3). She should never have been taken to court, convicted, sentenced to community service and ordered to pay compensation to the disruptive child she reprimanded and prodded.

If that weren't punishment enough, Mrs Brandley has yet to face a governors' inquiry. Her career is in ruins - Cheshire County Council has removed Mrs Brandley from the list of approved supply teachers. But what has happened to the boy who was so rude and persistently disruptive? Perhaps she shouldn't have prodded the boy but was it right to deal with her so severely? Surely a written warning from the local education authority would have sufficed?

I am the deputy head of a junior school and know how challenging - and provocative - some children can be. The harsh treatment of Catherine Brandley is a stark warning to us all: think twice before tackling a really disruptive pupil and when in doubt back off for the sake of your career.

Mrs Brandley's unjust sentence marks a further erosion of discipline in our schools and a slap in the face for every professional teacher trying to do a good job in difficult circumstances. It also made me reflect that there but for the grace of God go I.

Gary Terretta 49 Abbotsbury Court, King's Road, Horsham, West Sussex

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