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A headteacher who was sacked for disciplining their own child has won £100,000 in compensation.

Shelly-Ann Malabver-Goulbourne was accused of assault after tapping her own toddler’s hand while he played with a bottle of hand sanitiser.

She was trying to get her three-year-old to stop playing with the bottle in her office and used two fingers to attract his attention.

The incident, which was witnessed by another teacher in charge of child safety, was filed as an official complaint.

Police officers were called and the headteacher was suspended.

The local force concluded her actions were “reasonable chastisement” by a parent.

However, Malabver-Goulbourne was later found guilty of gross misconduct and sacked.

An employment judge later ruled there was no evidence she had committed “physical chastisement or an assault”, declaring her dismissal unfair.

Malabver-Goulbourne won £102,328 in compensation following her unfair dismissal case.

The 46-year-old, who was the headteacher at Hackney’s Northwold Primary School in London, first joined the school in 2005.

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She was promoted to headteacher in 2017, with the incident taking place in January 2022.

The hearing was told: “It was around 6.20pm and [Malabver-Goulbourne] was packing up her things to go home after having a meeting with Ms Bhagwandas, the designated lead for safeguarding.

“[Her] two children who attended the school were in her offices with her, waiting for her to take them home.

“[Her] youngest child, her son J, who was 3 years old at the time, was in the room, as was her 11-year-old daughter.

“J took up a bottle of hand sanitiser which was on a table. [Her] daughter told her that he had squirted some to the floor. [Ms Malabver-Goulbourne] took the sanitiser out of his hand.”

Employment Judge Julia Jones added: “I find it likely that she then bent down to his level to speak to him about why he should not be playing with hand sanitiser.

“When she did so he turned his face away from her and she tapped him with two fingers on the back of his hand to get his attention, so that he would look at her to hear what she was saying.”

It was also revealed that her toddler had got hand sanitiser in his eye just two weeks earlier.

The tribunal was even told that neither the council nor the police, who interviewed all of the head teacher's children, thought further action necessary with officers concluding what she had done was “reasonable chastisement”.

The 46-year-old instead reiterated she was trying to grab her son’s attention.

However, she was sacked by the trust for gross misconduct in May 2022.

“The Trust expressly forbids any physical chastisement or contact of any kind,” she was told. “Therefore, whether a tap or otherwise, this was unnecessary physical contact with a pupil, which constitutes an assault, and therefore a breach of policies and statutory guidance.”

However, Judge Jones pointed out: “It is this Tribunal's judgement that [the Trust] had sufficient evidence...that she was trying to prevent injury to her child and addressing his behaviour.

“There was no evidence that she had committed physical chastisement or an assault.”

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