Deputy head beat special needs boys

Ashley Pritchard
Ashley Pritchard: denied nine counts of cruelty to children

A FORMER deputy headmaster of a special needs school admitted that boys were slippered as punishment, a court was told yesterday.

But Ashley Pritchard, 55, denied taking a run-up before beating pupils at Badgeworth Court School or hitting them on their bare buttocks. The school, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, catered for boys with behavioural problems and learning difficulties before it closed down in 1989.

Pritchard, of Llandeilo, Dyfed, denies nine counts of child cruelty. The offences are alleged to have occurred between December 1976 and January 1984. Pritchard told Bristol Crown Court that pupils were slippered for attacking and abusing female members of staff, fighting on stairs and running away. He denied an allegation that he banged a pupil’s head against a wall, causing him to have epileptic fits.

The trial continues.


Corpun file 21025


Daily Mirror, London, 15 August 2000

I’m in the clear

Deputy head not guilty but career’s over

By Nicky Burridge

A FORMER deputy headmaster at a special school was cleared of cruelty yesterday.

But his once-glittering career lay in ruins.

A jury at Bristol Crown Court took just 20 minutes to clear Ashley Pritchard of subjecting boys with behavioural problems and learning difficulties to a “physically brutal” regime.

Pritchard, 55, of Rhiw Yr Adar, Llandeilo, near Carmarthen, had always denied the charges, which included slippering boys on their bare buttocks with a gym shoe and banging their heads against the wall.

Two of Pritchard’s sons watched the case from the public gallery and when the verdict was announced one burst into tears.

Outside court, Pritchard said: “I’m very thankful that so many people have stood by me.” But he added: “All those years of teaching have gone down the drain and I now make my living as a carpenter.

“I’ve got nothing to say to the people who made these allegations. I am just quite happy to have been cleared.”

The six-day trial heard that Pritchard was the deputy headmaster of Badgeworth Court School, in Cheltenham, during the 1970s and 1980s.

The boarding school catered for youngsters aged eight to 16 who came from disturbed backgrounds.

Pritchard told the jury he was a disciplinarian but said he never used “unauthorised violence” at the school, which has now closed.

He said: “I never caused any serious injury to a boy in my care.

“I could be described as a disciplinarian but I was never cruel.”

He had pleaded not guilty to nine counts of cruelty to children.