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My autistic son, four, was SLAPPED by his teacher & the school don’t care

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A MUM and dad were left fuming after claiming their autistic four-year-old son was allegedly slapped by his teacher while at school.

Katie Waller and Daniel Turner say they were appalled after their son Charlie returned home with five red marks, including a couple underneath each arm and one on his jawline.

Four-year-old Charlie was allegedly slapped by a teacher at a primary school

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Four-year-old Charlie was allegedly slapped by a teacher at a primary schoolCredit: SWNS
Charlie came home from school with marks under his arms and one on his face

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Charlie came home from school with marks under his arms and one on his faceCredit: SWNS
The marks on Charlie's arms

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The marks on Charlie’s armsCredit: SWNS

They raised concerns with Eden Park Primary and Nursery School in Brixham, Devon, after the alleged incident on Friday, April 19.

A week later, they were informed he had been “slapped on the back of the hand” by a teacher.

But the now ex-pupil’s parents say they “disgusted” that an investigation into the incident resulted in the teacher receiving a “written warning”.

Meanwhile, no explanation has been provided to Charlie’s parents for the red marks that he came home with.

A fuming Mr Turner told SomersetLive: “I am not happy with the action that has been taken – the teacher has not been punished, he’s been given a warning?

“We know who the teacher is and we feel he should be arrested – but the school are protecting themselves and it is sickening.”

Dan and Katie have now pulled Charlie out of the school, and the young boy is currently awaiting to receive an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) – which means he will hopefully be able to attend a different school in Torquay.

Though the slap has not made a lasting mark, Dan says his boy has been “emotionally and mentally” impacted by the event.

Dan said: “Charlie has Global Developmental Delay, so his mental age is 12 months old.

“He is non-verbal and doesn’t communicate, and when he was first diagnosed with autism he used to pinch and scratch but we got him out of that about a year and a half ago.

“But this week he smacked me on the hand – he hasn’t done that in so long and I nearly broke down in tears.”

The incident occurred when Charlie was having a chat with his one-to-one assigned teacher on 19 April.

Dan explained: “Last Friday we were told Charlie had been in the sensory room the previous Friday – as he was having a one-to-one.

“He must have been over stimulated and his one-to-one was calming him down.

“Then suddenly another member of staff comes into the room, and Charlie swiped him to say ‘move, you are too close to me for comfort’. And this is when he was smacked by the teacher.”

In a letter sent by headteacher Benjamin Wallis to Katie, dated April 29, it recounts a summary of the conversation she had with Charlie’s one-to-one about the incident and the school’s subsequent actions.

The letter said: “She shared in her own words that a member of staff had ‘slapped Charlie on the back of the hand’.

“[The one-to-one] informed you this was reported immediately to the headteacher who then reported it to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).

“You were informed that as part of this process, the events were reclarified with Charlie’s one-to-one and the staff member was spoken to.

“The staff member was made clear that the school does not accept nor condone this behaviour and it was in breach of our policies and way of working.

“It is important to note that the staff member did not dispute the accusation and was incredibly remorseful.

“In line with LADO advice, the staff member was issued a written warning which would go on their personal file and the school will provide further training.”

Details were also provided of a meeting Katie and Daniel had at the school, including with the headteacher, last Friday, April 26.

The letter continued: “The LADO confirmed that the school had taken all of the correct steps and the incident did not meet the threshold to be considered a police or other matter. To clarify, the event was a ‘gentle slap’ on the back of the hand.

“In clarifying this, we are not stating we find this acceptable, and still take this very seriously. However, it is to ensure all are clear as to the events of the incident.

“Even though the incident did not leave a mark and Charlie showed no upset at the time, it is still unacceptable and therefore appropriate action has already been taken.

“The school shares its sincere apologies that this happened and hopes you know we take this matter seriously and have followed all processes required, being open and honest at all stages.”

A furious Daniel said he was far from happy with the outcome, blasting the teacher’s punishment.

He added: “If that was any Tom, Dick and Harry they would have been arrested, but because they are a teacher they are doing a volunteer interview.

“People need to be aware of this – it is completely wrong. They’ve just been given a warning and it is going on their record and their going to attend a training course?

“What training course is gonna change your mind to hit a child – it’s not going to correct a brain wave. They think a gentle slap is OK?

“What happens if next time it is a harder slap?

“Even more frustrating is the unexplained marks? We emailed the school when we found out and they knew this had happened.

“The school were aware of my boy being so dysregulated all week – they should of told us an investigation was going on but they kept it from us.

“I would have expected the school to be ringing me documenting what my boy has been going through! But nothing.”

Dan says Charlie has been left very distressed.

He added: “Charlie just didn’t want to go into school, he wasn’t eating, he has been spitting his medication out – waking up in the middle of the night screaming and kicking.”

Eden Park Primary School told The Sun that “physical contact was made with the back of a child’s hand”.

A spokesperson added that the matter had already been reported to the police and local authority safeguarding team.

Eden Park Primary School’s full statement read: “We are aware of negative posts and press, following an unfortunate and regretful event at school where physical contact was made with the back of a child’s hand. Some of the links suggested and words written in the press are not true.

“Eden Park Primary and Connect Academy Trust take the safety of all children and staff very seriously. The matter has already been reported to the police and local authority safeguarding team, who have confirmed the necessary steps have been taken.

“The school is working alongside the Local Authority Designated
Officer and matter is also being investigated internally. Working together, we have taken steps to ensure that all children and staff remain safe while a full investigation takes place.

“The school will take appropriate steps recommended following the investigation.

“We respectively request that other people, who do not know the full circumstances of the situation, do not make negative comments about the school and how all children are cared for.

“We have been transparent about this incident and are already working closely with the family affected.

“Eden Park is a listening school and will always take the necessary steps to ensure children are kept safe.”

The school also highlighted that the most recent Ofsted report (July 2023), praised all aspects of the school, including the provision for disadvantaged children and how children are kept safe.

It read: “The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. Safeguarding leads are skilled and highly visible. They are well known by staff, pupils and families.

“Systems and processes are clear and widely understood. Staff record their concerns consistently and accurately.

“Leaders have strong relationships with other agencies. Safer recruitment processes are well established.

“Appropriate checks are made on the suitability of staff. Checks are recorded carefully on a single central record.

“Staff are aware of the contextual challenges of working in this coastal community. They access appropriate training.

“Leaders ensure there is strong capacity to support families in need of support, including through the effective pastoral team.

“Staff work hard to support pupils and their families. Consequently, pupils are safe.”

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