Supply teacher, 63, ‘hit pupil over the head during a science lesson’ after working there for just 8 days

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A supply teacher has been banned from the profession for at least three years after “hitting a pupil over the head during science class”. Ms Carolyn Darnell was working as a supply teacher for a secondary school in Warwickshire through supply teacher agency, Aspire Recruitment.

A misconduct hearing heard how the 63-year-old “brought the profession into disrepute” after she was alleged to have hit a female pupil at Bilton School in Rugby around May 15, 2019. She was employed as a supply teacher at the school for just eight days between May 7 and May 15, when she was accused of using inappropriate and unreasonable force on a student – known only as Pupil A.

Ms Darnell had denied the allegations, saying that she ‘bonked’ her on the head with a piece of paper. She did not attend the misconduct hearing and was not legally represented.

READ MORE: ‘Stressed’ Lambeth primary school teacher sacked for ‘slapping’ pupils

In a witness statement, Pupil A said: “I was in science and I was sat talking to another pupil and I turn round to give my work to the teacher and I stood up and she slapped me round the head – and all I did was stand up and give her my work.

“She slapped me that hard my chin touched my chest. At the time, I was in shock, so I didn’t think about doing anything. Other pupils were in the classroom and saw what happened.” The panel found Pupil A’s account in her oral testimony at the hearing, whilst under oath, to be consistent with her previous written accounts.

Giving evidence, a classmate, known as Pupil B, said: “During science, Miss was joking around with [Pupil A] and she hit her on the head as a joke but she did it too hard and hurt.” Pupil C added: “[Pupil A] was a bit loud and Mrs Darnell came over to tell her to quieten down so she did – and as Ms Darnell turned to walk away she hit her on the back of the head. But I am not sure if it was by accident or not.”

In her oral testimony, Pupil A was clear that she did not think Ms Darnell had been joking or it had been an accident. Prior to the hearing, Ms Darnell had denied that she had hit Pupil A. The panel noted a letter from Ms Darnell dated February 18, 2022, in which she stated that she “playfully bonked her on the head with some paper. This is all I did. I absolutely did not slap, strike or hit her”.

The panel determined that, on the balance of probabilities, Ms Darnell had hit Pupil A on the head with her hand during a lesson at the school on or around May 15, 2019. The panel determined there was no credible justification or reason for Ms Darnell to have hit Pupil A on the back of the head.

Pupil A’s evidence was that she suffered with a headache following the incident – and visited her GP the following day where she complained of pain at the back of her neck, as well as her head. She also added: “I don’t feel like I could trust teachers anymore.”

The panel concluded that Ms Darnell’s actions in hitting Pupil had been deliberate, but acknowledged that they were “a one off incident”. There was no evidence to suggest that Ms Darnell was acting under extreme duress. In her defence, Ms Darnell stated that she had worked at a secure training centre for three years and had worked with “some of the most vulnerable and damaged young people” in society.

As a result of the hearing, Ms Carolyn Darnell is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England for at least three years. She may apply for the prohibition order to be set aside, but not until March 2025. Without a successful appeal, Ms Darnell remains prohibited from teaching indefinitely.

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I’m Sam, a News Reporter at MyLondon with a special interest in covering court and crime. I started in September 2021, and I’m based in Ealing. You can follow my Facebook page here.

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