School nurse dismissed for
smacking son, loses appeal
Susan Pope said she smacked her son after he had ignored “warnings to stop his temper tantrum and repeated swearing.”
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- Locked up for smacking my son … How a slap brought police and social services in to tear a family apart (dailymail.co.uk, 07 April 2008)
- Bid to ban smacking in NI is abandoned (21 April 2009)
- Smacking row as children’s chief denies abuse comment (04 March 2009)
- Smacking is ‘child abuse’ says NI children’s chief (03 March 2009)
- NI children’s tsar loses smacking ban attempt (23 February 2009)
A woman who was sacked as a school nurse after smacking her child at home has lost a claim for unfair dismissal.
Susan Pope disciplined her son after he swore at her but when his older brother reported it to the police, she was taken into a cell and questioned on abuse charges.
A judge threw out the case against Mrs Pope but her children were nonetheless placed on the Child Protection Register.
Mrs Pope was suspended from her job because the school said it was reluctant to allow unsupervised contact with pupils who might be vulnerable.
Susan Pope was “horrified” at losing her case of unfair dismissal, which came to light only recently.
Mrs Pope’s ordeal began in 2007 when her sons, aged eleven and 16, started misbehaving.
She said “We were having quite serious teenage rebellion problems with our eldest son and our middle son started swearing at me.”
“I warned him that I would smack him and he did not stop swearing at me so, I smacked him.”
When the boys later reported their mother to the police, both Susan and her husband were arrested for abuse and put in a police cell.
Their eldest son, Oliver, has said he was wrong to call the police.
He said: “It made me feel bad about what I did because everyone had to suffer.”
The family are now back living together.
Social services said the parents would not be allowed to see their children, but the ruling was later thrown out by a judge.
However, with the children placed on the Child Protection Register, the school suspended Mrs Pope.
After losing the tribunal case, Mrs Pope said: “I am horrified. I feel let down by the school and social services and now I have been let down by the employment tribunal.
“They wrecked my career. People in social services and others don’t understand that their wild accusations can ruin people’s lives.
“My children are suffering from financial deprivation as a result of this madness. I am doing a shop job and not the professional career I had before.”
Richard O’Hagan, writing for the Daily Mail, said: “She committed no crime and was never even charged with one. The connection between her act and her work appears to be tenuous at best.”
Adrian Davies, the present bursar of Malvern St James, said: “The unanimous judgment of the tribunal to dismiss Mrs Pope’s unfair dismissal claim against Malvern St James is welcome in that it brings to an end a difficult period for both Mrs Pope and the school.”