Primary School Head Teacher Awarded £100k Compensation After Being Sacked For Disciplining Her Child By Tapping His Hand

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Primary School Head Teacher Awarded £100k Compensation After Being Sacked For Disciplining Her Child By Tapping His Hand

A London primary school head teacher, unfairly dismissed after tapping her son’s hand to prevent him from playing with hand sanitiser, has been awarded over £100,000 in compensation.

Shelly-Ann Malabver-Goulbourne, who was head of Northwold Primary School in Hackney, was suspended and investigated by police after a colleague accused her of unnecessarily hurting her son while she was working late in her office.

The employment tribunal found that Malabver-Goulbourne had merely tapped her three-year-old son’s hand with two fingers to get his attention and stop him from injuring himself with the sanitiser. She has now won £102,328 in compensation.

The incident occurred in January 2022, when Malabver-Goulbourne was working late after a meeting with fellow teacher Samantha Bhagwandas, the designated lead for safeguarding. Her three-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, both pupils at the school, were with her in the office waiting to go home.

Two weeks prior, the boy had gotten sanitiser in his eye after playing with a bottle. On this occasion, after he squirted sanitiser on the floor, Malabver-Goulbourne tapped his hand to stop him. Bhagwandas accused her of hurting her son and filed an official complaint, leading to Malabver-Goulbourne’s suspension and police involvement.

Although the police deemed her actions “reasonable chastisement” by a parent, Arbor Academy Trust, where Malabver-Goulbourne had worked since 2005 and served as head since 2017, still dismissed her.

During the investigation, Malabver-Goulbourne explained that her son hadn’t cried from the tap but had started whining because she took the sanitiser bottle away from him.

Upholding the head teacher’s claim of unfair dismissal, employment judge Julia Jones said Ms Malabver-Goulbourne’s physical contact with her son came within the school’s code of conduct and could not be considered “unnecessary physical contact”.

Her son was “engaging in an activity that could have caused him harm”, and there was “no evidence that she had committed physical chastisement or an assault”, the judge added.

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