An Arbroath nursery worker who was found to have “abused and goaded” children in her care has been struck off.
Kally June Smith claimed a student who gave evidence against her at a hearing was “jealous” of her.
But officials at the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) found a series of claims against her to be proven.
After a hearing, the SSSC found Smith:
- Grabbed two children by their arms and pulled them with force
- Shouted in the faces of children to “be quiet and sit down” or words to that effect
- On more than one occasion, took a non-verbal boy’s hat off and placed it on her head, causing distress – and then when the boy looked up and tapped his head for his hat, laughed and said “it’s nothing” or words to that effect
The claims centred on Smith’s time as a support worker at an unnamed nursery in Arbroath between September 2019 and January 2020.
Arbroath nursery worker ‘held children by wrists and shouted in their faces’
Two students gave evidence against Smith at the hearing.
According to the SSSC report into the case, the first student – who worked as an early years assistant at the nursery – told of seeing Smith drag children across the floor with force.
They claimed Smith then put the children on the ground and, while holding their wrists, shouted in their faces: “Sit down and stay there.”
The second student who gave evidence claimed to have witnessed the incident regarding the non-verbal child.
She said that the boy took comfort from his hat, coat and bag, so when Smith wore his hat, he touched his head and looked frustrated about her wearing it – making an “oh” sound.
Smith was said to have brushed it off as if it was nothing.
Nursery worker claimed student was ‘jealous’
During her own evidence, Smith denied the allegations.
She told the panel that she had been charged by police in April 2020 in connection with the claims but found not guilty at a criminal trial.
Smith said that neither of the nursery’s two managers had been present at the time of the alleged incidents and that she did not consider the management to be effective.
She claimed that one of the students who gave evidence was jealous of her, as Smith was younger and closer to completing her studies.
A representative for Smith also told the SSSC panel that the witnesses who had given accounts were “not independent of each other” and they spoke on social media.
The representative also claimed there were “inconsistencies” in some of the evidence.
A solicitor putting forward the SSSC case said: “There has been a breach of multiple parts of the code.
“The behaviour was very serious, amounting to abusive, aggressive and violent, as well as mocking and goading, behaviour towards small children.
“Emotional harm was caused to (one child) and there was the risk of physical and emotional harm to two others.
“Although a course of conduct was not found proved, there was a pattern of abusive behaviour.”
In reaching its decision, the panel said it found the witnesses to be credible and that the “inconsistencies” could be explained by the passage of time and the stress they were under.
It said that this “did not detract from the clear evidence they both gave” and that “the panel found no reason for the witnesses to fabricate such allegations”.
‘Parents expected children would not be physically dragged, shouted at or goaded’
The panel’s decision said: “There was a significant breach of trust in the
manner in which very young children were treated by you.
“Their parents entrusted them to your care in the nursery and were entitled to expect that they would be treated with dignity and not abused, physically dragged and shouted at, or goaded in the matter established in the allegations.
“This conduct caused (one child) distress and had the potential to cause physical and
emotional harm to (a second child) and the other child involved.”
It said that references about Smith provided to the panel had been “very positive” in nature but added: “The panel noted that it had no evidence before it which demonstrated any insight, regret or apology.
“You denied the allegations, as is your right.
“As a consequence, however, you had failed to apologise or accept that mistakes
were made and had taken no steps to remediate the conduct or to explain how you might have acted differently.”
Smith has until Monday December 11 to appeal the decision.