A college equine centre supervisor was sacked after losing her temper with a student in an incident which saw her throw a riding crop at his car and call him a p**** . Ceri Ann Ridge tried to snatch the 18-year-old’s car keys from the ignition, threw the crop at his car causing him to slam on the brakes, and pointed her finger near his face, a professional standards hearing was told.

Ridge agreed she had become “very angry” during the incident which could have caused an accident and left construction skills student Ben Griffiths feeling intimidated. She told the Education Workforce Council Wales committee she should not have acted as she did and regretted her actions which led to her “losing everything”.

The hearing was told Ridge and others had raised concerns with Bridgend College management about the speed at which people drove past the equine centre to reach the college car park. But she couldn’t be certain how fast the teenager was driving when she lost her temper with him.

Ridge said she had been overworked in her job and felt frustrated that health and safety concerns about drivers going to the car park too fast had not been taken seriously by the college. She had wrongly taken her “frustration and exasperation” out on the teenager that day.

Getting emotional and tearful during the hearing, held remotely on March 12 and 13, Ridge told the panel she was devastated to lose her job after the outburst in March last year. She had worked at the college since 2008 and loved her job and moved up from yard supervisor to centre supervisor as well as FE teacher and FE learning support worker.

Ridge was dismissed after an internal college investigation and disciplinary hearing in April and May 2023, the panel was told. Former college vice principal Matthew Williams, who now works for education inspectorate Estyn and carried out the internal investigation, said he was aware of complaints about the car park and that traffic calming measures had been put in place.

He had seen CCTV audio of the altercation, which did not have audio, but said he was told by the student that Ridge had called him a "p****". Mr Williams told the hearing the student told him that “she was shouting and tried to grab the keys from the ignition, refused to give him her name, and called him a p****".

Mr Williams said the student told him he knew Ridge as a member of staff who had "told people off for driving too fast.” During the college investigation Ridge had admitted she could not be certain the speed at which the student was driving but she had immediately taken “full responsibility and was remorseful” for her actions, he added.

Giving evidence Ridge, who now works at XR training helping deliver apprenticeships, said her job at the college, and horses she cared for there, had been part of her life. Losing her job caused her “shame and embarrassment” and she felt she had let her team and students at the college down.

“I have lost the horses I cared for and treated as my own. The biggest part of my adult life has been at the college,” she told the panel, adding: “Concerns had been raised by myself and colleagues about vehicles driving too fast, startling horses, and putting staff in danger... I express genuine remorse for my behaviour that day which was out of character for me.”

She said she had faced up to her actions and was confident she would not lose her temper like that again. “I recognise I should not have thrown my whip. It was both dangerous and inappropriate and my attempts to remove his [car] keys were not necessary because he had already stopped.”

Good character and work references for Ridge were read out at the hearing. The committee heard she had a previously unblemished work record..

Ridge accepted she had not tried to calmly engage with the student. She admitted all three allegations against her as well as accepting they amounted to unacceptable professional conduct. The allegations were that Ridge:

1.a) Shouted at Student A through their car window; and/or

b) Attempted to remove Student A’s car keys from the ignition of their car; and/or

c) Pointed your finger in close proximity to Student A’s face; and/or

d) Threw a riding crop at Student A’s car.

2. The conduct was inappropriate and/or intimidating.

3. The facts above constitute unacceptable professional conduct

The committee found all the allegations proved and that they amounted to unacceptable professional conduct. However the panel said Ridge had shown insight and remorse and had admitted her actions and apologised to all concerned. She had since completed safeguarding and other training and they viewed it as an "isolated incident" brought about by frustrations about traffic.

Issuing Ridge with a reprimand, which means she can work as a registered FE teacher and learning support worker, the panel told her her behaviour that day had been unacceptable and must not happen again.

The reprimand will stay on her record for two years. Ridge has the right to appeal the decision to the High Court within 28 days.

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