'Notorious' head to give crisis help

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
A primary headteacher who was convicted, and then cleared, of slapping a pupil plans to use her notoriety to help teachers in crisis.

Marjorie Evans says she will spend some of her retirement as a backroom campaigner for Teacher Support Cymru (TSC), the charity dedicated to supporting teachers.

Mrs Evans, known as Marje to former colleagues, said a tearful goodbye to staff and pupils at St Mary's junior school, Caldicot, this summer, after 18 years at the helm. But she spent a "hellish" 18 months battling to clear her name, after she was accused in 1999 of slapping a 10-year-old boy.

Speaking to TES Cymru, Mrs Evans said her experience had made her re-think her retirement plans to include campaigning work for teachers. She is currently vice-president of the board of trustees at TSC.

Mrs Evans, 60, said: "I still think teaching is the best job in the world.

I want to give something back to the people who helped me in times of trouble."

"But a balance has still to be found between looking after the interests of children and ensuring teachers are not the targets of false accusations.

Teachers need all the support they can get if they find themselves in my position."

Mrs Evans was suspended from St Mary's in September 1999, following allegations she had slapped a boy. In July the following year she was found guilty by magistrates and given a three-month suspended sentence.

The verdict was overturned on appeal, but she faced fresh allegations of pupil mistreatment and was again suspended by the school's governors. After the police said no more charges would be brought, the governing body eventually held a disciplinary hearing against her in March 2001 - when she was cleared of all charges and returned to the school.

On her last day at St Mary's this summer, Mrs Evans decided to postpone her 60th birthday celebrations and instead threw a party to mark the end of 40 years in teaching.

She will represent the National Union of Teachers Cymru within Monmouthshire education authority: "I will go to all the conferences and give talks. It's something someone with my notoriety can do and be listened to."

And she plans to take a photography and IT course. But her top priority appears to be her garden. "I have never been able to master the art of growing sweetpeas - perhaps I will have some time to learn now," she said.

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