Bury St Edmunds head teacher 'locked children in rooms'

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Image caption,
Alison Earl was the head teacher at Tollgate Primary School from 2014 to 2015

A head teacher who punished children by locking them in rooms has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership panel was told children at Tollgate Primary School in Bury St Edmunds could regularly be heard "shouting or crying" from the rooms.

Alison Earl admitted leaving children in the rooms, but denied it was for an "inappropriate" amount of time.

The education secretary is to rule on what disciplinary action she will face.

The hearing heard, under Mrs Earl's leadership, staff would put children into solitary confinement for bad behaviour.

It was heard staff would hold the handle from outside so children could not get out.

The handle was then moved higher up the door so the children could not reach it, the panel was told.

'Disregard for law'

In summer 2015, a second room, known as the "blue room", was created.

It was about 2m (7ft) by 1.5m (5ft) and teachers could not observe it from the main corridor.

A few children were put into solitary confinement in this room, the panel was told.

Mrs Earl said she expected staff to supervise children who were put into solitary confinement, but the panel said it had no evidence to support her claim.

The 55-year-old, however, did admit putting children at risk.

The panel said Mrs Earl had shown a "lack of insight into the impact of the room upon the wellbeing and safety of pupils and a disregard for the law and guidance".

Mrs Earl had been the head teacher at the school between 2014 and 2015. She resigned in December 2015 after an investigation was carried out.

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