Lincoln headteacher escapes ban after admitting unacceptable behaviour

A former headteacher of a Lincoln school found guilty of acting in an unprofessional manner towards staff, pupils and parents has been spared a teaching ban.

Elizabeth Jones, 48, admitted to unacceptable professional conduct during her spell as headteacher at St Michael’s Primary School, Thorpe on the Hill, between September 2000 and June 2012.

At a National College for Training and Leadership hearing in Coventry, she confessed to making inappropriate remarks to staff, such as sneering “derr” at them to imply they were stupid, as well as making colleagues cry through her behaviour.

In one example given in the hearing, she shouted down the telephone at an ill colleague: “You can’t have been, you’re not well. I’m not having this … You’re letting everyone down – the parents, your colleagues, the children.”

Jones also accepted that she once told a teaching assistant to tell a parent to “f**k off” and would on occasion fold her arms, sigh, lift her hands in the air, and roll her eyes at staff.

Other allegations Jones admitted to included making comments intended to cause staff to believe that their jobs were under threat and misleading parents about the reasons why a teacher left the school.

A second allegation of acting dishonestly by instructing staff to alter the levels given to certain pupils in Key Stage One exams before the data was submitted to the local authority was denied by Jones and dismissed by the panel.

Paul Heathcoate, outlining the overall decision on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan, said: “The panel have found the allegation in respect of Mrs Jones acting in an unprofessional manner within school proven.

“The second allegation in respect of acting dishonestly with regard to Key Stage One data has not been proved, therefore I have put this from my mind in considering this case.

“Having found that Mrs Jones acted in an unprofessional manner within school, the panel went on to find that those facts amounted to unacceptable professional conduct. Her actions involved breaches of the teachers’ standards and her behaviour fell short of the standards expected of a teacher.

“The panel went on to consider whether it would be appropriate and proportionate to recommend a prohibition order. They have properly balanced the interests of the public with those of the teacher and have noted that the purpose of a prohibition order is not to be punitive although the affect may be so.

“A finding of unacceptable professional conduct declares to both the public and the profession that Mrs Jones’ conduct was not appropriate.

“She has rebuilt her reputation since the incidents concerned. She has shown considerable insight and remorse and has taken positive steps to avoid any repetition. Her current headteacher has provided mitigating evidence on Mrs Jones’ behalf.

“In all the circumstances I agree with the panel’s recommendation that a finding of unacceptable professional conduct is in itself sufficient in this case and it would not be proportionate to impose a prohibition order.”