Headteacher sacked for disciplining his own son wins £100,000 compensation

Headteacher sacked for disciplining his own son wins £100,000 compensation

A school headteacher who was sacked for disciplining his own son has won £100,000 in compensation.

Shelly-Ann Malabver-Goulbourne has been charged with assault after slapping her son’s hand while he was playing with a bottle of hand sanitizer.

She was trying to get her three-year-old son to stop playing with his bottle in her office and used two fingers to get his attention.

The incident, which was witnessed by another teacher responsible for child safety, was recorded as an official complaint.

Northwold Primary School in Hackney, LondonGOOGLE STREET VIEW

Police were called and the principal was suspended.

Local police concluded that his actions were “reasonable punishment” by a parent.

However, Malabver-Goulbourne was later found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed.

An employment judge later ruled there was no evidence she had committed “physical punishment or assault”, declaring her dismissal unfair.

Malabver-Goulbourne won £102,328 in compensation following her unfair dismissal case.

The 46-year-old, who was headteacher at Northwold Primary School in Hackney, London, joined the school in 2005.


An empty classroom with some textbooks on the tables

​Wikimedia Commons

She was promoted to director in 2017, with the incident occurring in January 2022.

The hearing was told: “It was about 6.20pm and (Malabver-Goulbourne) was packing her things to go home after a meeting with Ms Bhagwandas, the designated protection leader.

“(Her) two school-going children were in her offices with her, waiting for her to take them home.

“(Her) youngest child, her son J, who was 3 at the time, was in the room, as was her 11-year-old daughter.

“J picked up a bottle of hand sanitiser that was on a table. (Her) daughter told her he had squirted some on the floor. (Mrs Malabver-Goulbourne) took the sanitiser out of his hand.”

Employment judge Julia Jones added: “I think it is likely that she got down to his level to talk to him about why he shouldn’t play with hand sanitiser.

“When she did this, he turned his face away from her and she tapped the back of his hand with two fingers to get his attention so he would look at her and listen to what she was saying.”

A teacher presents to her class of students


It was also revealed that her young son had put hand sanitizer in his eye just two weeks earlier.

The court was even told that neither the council nor the police, who interviewed all of the headteacher’s children, considered that additional action was necessary, with officers concluding that what she had done was a “reasonable punishment”.

The 46-year-old woman reiterated that she was trying to get her son’s attention.

However, she was fired by the fund for gross misconduct in May 2022.

“The Trust expressly prohibits any physical punishment or contact of any kind,” she was told. “Therefore, whether it was a slap or not, this was unnecessary physical contact with a student, which constitutes assault and therefore a breach of statutory policy and guidance.”

However, Judge Jones noted: “The judgment of this Court is that (the Trust) had sufficient evidence… that she was trying to prevent harm to her son and to deal with his behaviour.

“There was no evidence that she had committed physical punishment or assault.”