Teacher cleared of pupils assault
A teacher has been found not guilty of assaulting seven of her pupils at a school in Central Scotland. Lorraine Stirling, 50, who used to teach forces’ children in Germany, was accused of hitting “difficult” primary seven children between 2000 and 2004. Alloa Sheriff Court heard that a group of pupils may have conspired to make up stories about her. Clearing her, Sheriff David Mackie said she was a “caring person with a genuine concern for the pupils in her charge”. Clackmannanshire Council’s director of public services David Jones said he hoped Miss Stirling, from Dollar, would be allowed to return to normal along with the school, pupils and parents. “It has been a very difficult time for everyone involved and we are pleased with the outcome for the sake of Miss Stirling, the school, the staff and pupils,” he added. Her lawyer, speaking on behalf of her union, the EIS, said the case highlighted the “precarious” position of any professional working with children. ‘Challenging’ class The trial took three days over a period of two weeks. The court heard that Miss Stirling, who qualified in 1975, had been put in charge of the primary seven class because the head teacher thought it was “too challenging” for a less experienced teacher. The school’s head teacher told the trial that there were six to eight difficult children in the class who could be “verbally and physically hard on each other”. He said he had received a warning from a child who said some of the pupils were “getting together and making up stories” about Miss Stirling. ‘Gloating’ emails The allegations came to light shortly afterwards and a series of gloating emails were then received by the education authority purporting to come from pupils boasting they had “got rid” of her. She was accused of hitting five boys and three girls with her hand, books and the class register. An eighth charge against her was found not guilty earlier in the trial. Miss Stirling, who has worked from home since being charged, will be given a refresher course to get her back to work. The school cannot be identified for legal reasons.