Catholic head teacher accused of telling pupils: 'I'm phoning God about you'


The head teacher of a Catholic primary school in Wiltshire has been accused of reprimanding naughty children by telling them "I'm phoning God about you" and making them lie face-down on the floor.

Parents of children at St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Devizes have complained to the school governors and reported head teacher Sheila Jones' "humiliation" of pupils to Oftsed, the Telegraph reports.

Alexandra Jones, a mother who used to work as a lunchtime supervisor at the school, complained to Ofsted.

"All the children were whispering about something and then it came out that Sheila had made some of them lie face down in the prayer room while she pretended to ring God on her mobile phone," Jones said.

Another parent, Tammy Brimble said her 11-year-old son Cyrus was also told by the head that she was reporting him to God for being naughty.

"I don't think what she did was appropriate at all," said Brimble, who made a number of attempts to speak to the head but eventually wrote to the governors and to Ofsted to complain.

"We are not Roman Catholics but it was still distressing for my child for her to call on God like that," she said.

In a letter to deputy chairman of the governors, Simon Napper, she wrote: "Cyrus has been subjected to the humiliation of being punished by Sheila on more than one occasion by having to lie face down on the floor.

"We have witnesses for this too, and the evidence of the harm this has caused him."

In response, Oftsed has asked the safeguarding panel at Wiltshire Council to investigate the complaints.

At the last Ofsted review in 2013, the school was rated as "requires improvement". It is scheduled to have another Oftsed inspection in the coming days.

Chairman of governors at St Joseph's, Colette Culligan, said: "We are aware of an allegation against one of the teaching staff. In order to follow due process, all enquiries regarding this issue need to be directed to Wiltshire Council. This is to ensure that any investigation currently being conducted is not unduly influenced."

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said they would look into any concerns once they had received the letter from Ofsted.

On the school's website, the headmistress describe St Joseph's as "a faith school, built on gospel values of love, tolerance, forgiveness and compassion; we are a family school and we embrace everyone who is important in a child's life.

"We aim to work in partnership with parish, parents, nursery and wider community to support children so that they leave us in Year 6 with their hopes and dreams still alive, a sensitivity and receptiveness to what lies beyond the here and now and an ability to think and act morally."