Terence Anthony, now retired, was a primary teacher at Edinburgh’s Gylemuir Primary School when it was alleged three years ago he made physical contact by forcibly moving a pupil with behaviour problems and autism by her shoulders causing distress and insisting another pupil sat in his underwear “as punishment for speaking”.
Following the verdict, Mr Anthony highlighted his view of the vague regulations relating to when a teacher can physically interact with a child.
He said: “The government has to come up with some sort of rules for when a teacher can make contact with a child. Every teacher in this country has been in a situation where they’ve had to split up a fight in a playground. The number of times you intervene physically because somebody goes at somebody that looks to throw something and you stop. Do you just let it happen and live with the consequences?
“I can understand the worry about teachers being too forceful with some children, but there has to be a leeway there for teachers to intervene when there is a threat.”
The Scottish Government’s National Guidance for Child Protection states that physical contact with schoolchildren should be minimal.
It permits for teachers to reassure upset children through physical measures, however, adding that teachers may only make contact with a child when it is the child who “initiates the contact and when it is appropriate.” In situations where a child needs to be restrained, either to protect the child their self or others, the guidance notes that minimal force should be used.
What constitutes “minimal force” could be seen as debatable in different circumstances.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “School staff have access to guidance on the use of physical intervention as a last resort to ensure the safety of pupils.”