Unsted Park 'self-harm blades' head teacher cleared

  • 16 May 2014
  • From the section Surrey

A former head teacher who gave a girl at a special school equipment for self-harming has been cleared of unacceptable professional misconduct.

Laura Blair admitted providing a 17-year-old at Unsted Park School in Godalming with a disposable razor and antiseptic wipes.

She told a professional conduct hearing it was to allow the student to scratch her arms in a controlled way.

Ms Blair, who became head teacher in 2011, left the school in March 2013.

Broken light bulbs

The school, run by The Priory Group, provides special education for seven to 19-year-olds with Asperger's, higher functioning autism and associated disorders.

The professional conduct panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership said the facts of the case "may appear startling".

It was told the teenager, named as Pupil A, had very complex needs and had previously received in-patient treatment for a mental health condition.

She self-harmed on a regular basis, using implements that she found to hand, including broken light bulbs and staples.

In January 2012 her self-harming got worse and staff had to restrain her on several occasions.

'Naive and inexperienced'

Following discussions with a psychiatric nurse and Pupil A's mother it was agreed it was better for her to have a sterile blade to self-harm.

Ms Blair and a care support worker took Pupil A to Boots to buy safety razors and sterile wipes.

Pupil A used the pack on two occasions, in January 2012, the panel heard.

Some staff felt uncomfortable about the use of the procedure and raised concerns, whereas other staff fully supported it.

Announcing its findings, the panel said Ms Blair accepted she was "naive" and "inexperienced" and failed to follow best practice by consulting more widely.

She said she would not make the same mistake again and the panel accepted this and found her behaviour did not fall within the definition of unacceptable professional conduct.

The panel also found the current head of Unstead Park, Steve Dempsey, and Phil Jonas, regional manager of the Priory Group, were not involved in implementing the controlled self-harm procedure.

The Priory Group said it noted the outcome of the hearing.

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