Public school nurse sacked after son reports her for smacking his brother-UK
By Nick Britten

Last Updated: 1:30am GMT 24/03/2008






A senior nurse at a leading public school has been sacked after smacking her 10-year-old son at home.


Susan Pope, 45, was investigated by the police who decided she had done nothing wrong after she hit the boy on his bottom.

But the £25,000-a-year boarding school said that because social services remained involved in the case, it could damage the school’s reputation. It fired her for alleged gross misconduct.

Mrs Pope, who has three children, is taking the school to an industrial tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.

The row is likely to reopen the debate about smacking children.

Mrs Pope said she hit her son on the bottom after he was abusive and repeatedly swore at her. Her elder son, who was 15, called the police. Mrs Pope and her husband, Folker, a chartered surveyor, were arrested and held in a cell for 32 hours.

They were released without charge and officers contacted them to say no action would be taken. However, Worcestershire social services, called when the couple were arrested, placed the 10-year-old and his younger sister, who was eight at the time, on the child protection register.

Malvern St James, one of the country’s leading girls’ boarding schools, said it could not risk damage to its reputation if word got out that the senior nurse’s children were on the register. Mrs Pope said: “I feel I have done absolutely nothing wrong and yet have seen my reputation, career and life shattered by this.

“We are a typical middle-class family who earn well and used to enjoy three or four holidays a year. Now that has gone. Smacking is not against the law in this country and I am a firm believer of physical chastisement within reason. Children need boundaries.

“My son was behaving badly. I warned him that if he swore at me again I would smack him. He did so I smacked him, over his trousers, on the bottom. My 15-year-old, who was going through a rebellious stage, telephoned the police, something he now regrets and he has since retracted his allegation. The police have decided I did nothing wrong, there is no risk to my children, but the school feel its reputation is more important.

“I have been a practising nurse for 25 years with an unblemished career, a career which is now over. I have no idea why my children are still on the register. As far as I’m concerned social services jumped in too soon.”

The incident happened in May last year. Mrs Pope was sacked in January. She has appealed against the decision and is awaiting the outcome. Social services have reviewed the case and decided that the children should stay on the register. A Worcestershire County Council spokesman said it could not comment. However, sources within the department indicated the Popes had not yet satisfied them that they had met the welfare criteria laid out when the children were placed on the register.


“There are issues that still need to be sorted, it’s not simply about a child being smacked,” the source said.

Malvern St James said it was “inappropriate” to comment on staff. In its letter to Mrs Pope dismissing her, it said that the role of senior nurse involved unsupervised contact with children when they are “particularly vulnerable” and the fact that her children are on the register “gives the school grounds to question whether you are suitable to hold the post”.

It adds: “The school’s reputation could be severely damaged in the event that any parents or potential parents became aware that the children of the school’s senior nurse were on the child protection register.”

Mrs Pope’s lawyer, Nick Turner, said he would be suing the police for alleged wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.


One response to “Public school nurse sacked after son reports her for smacking his brother-UK”

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