A TEACHER has avoided a prohibition order after ‘pushing’ a pupil’s head down into their book and ‘hitting’ another pupil on the back of the head.

Dr Heather Erasmus, who was employed as the assistant housemistress at Rye St Antony School in Headington, was found to have made ‘inappropriate physical contact’ with pupils by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA).

A professional conduct panel of the TRA took place on November 22 to discuss several allegations against the Pullen’s Lane school teacher.

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Dr Erasmus, who was not present or represented at the hearing, was accused of pushing down on the head of a pupil, grabbing a pupil’s arm, making contact with a pupil’s head, and hitting a pupil on the head on or around September 27, 2019.

Pupils had raised concerns about the teacher, who denied all the allegations, which were referred to Thames Valley Police.

The case was later dropped due to parents of the pupils not wanting them to make formal questions.

Dr Erasmus was suspended during the investigation and later dismissed by the school on October 19, 2019 following its own investigation.

The panel found that it was ‘more likely than not’ that three of the four allegations had taken place with the exception of the teacher having grabbed a pupils arm.

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It said: “The panel considered that it was more likely than not that [the pupils] had been subjected to physical contact on the neck and/or head although the panel believed that this was most likely a relatively light touch contact.

“The panel considered [the pupils] to be a credible witness. The panel found that Dr Erasmus’ actions amounted to inappropriate physical contact.”

However, the panel dismissed the allegation about the teacher grabbing a pupils arm due to the pupil not providing evidence.

Several other allegations were also made against the teacher regarding her making comments that pupils felt were disrespectful of their religious beliefs.

One accusation alleged Dr Erasmus had said all pupils at the school ‘should be Catholic’ and those who weren’t ‘should not be at school’.

However, the panel dismissed these allegations stating the evidence from pupils had been ‘insufficient and/or too vague’.

The panel was satisfied that Dr Erasmus has breached the Teachers’ Standards and referred the case to Secretary of State to decide if a prohibition order was needed to ban her from teaching.

Sarah Buxcey, of behalf of the Secretary of State, said: “A prohibition order is not proportionate or in the public interest.

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“I consider that the publication of the findings made would be sufficient to send an appropriate message to the teacher as to the standards of behaviour that were not acceptable.”

Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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