Ex-head of school where pervert Nigel Leat preyed on pupils set to face panel
THE former head of a primary school where a paedophile teacher carried out a catalogue of sexual attacks on pupils could be banned from the classroom.
Chris Hood was the head teacher of Hillside First School in Weston-super-Mare when it emerged that Nigel Leat was abusing girls as young as six in his classes.
Leat, a married father-of-two from Brislington, was jailed indefinitely in 2011 after admitting a total of 36 offences, including 32 against five female students on school property over the preceding five years.
But detectives believe he may have abused as many as 40 youngsters over a 12-year period, despite a catalogue of complaints. He was finally brought to book after a parent went to the police.
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Next week Mr Hood will be called to appear at a professional conduct panel of the Teaching Agency, which has the power to issue a prohibition order banning him from undertaking unsupervised teaching work in schools or other settings.
He was suspended in January 2011 by governors and, after a disciplinary inquiry into the leadership and management of the school, he was dismissed in December 2011.
A serious case review, commissioned by the North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board, revealed that 11 out of 30 recorded incidents of Leat behaving in an inappropriate or unprofessional manner were reported to Mr Hood but were not taken any further or reported to designated council safeguarding officers.
The report criticised the management of the school and said there was significant failure to comply with the guidance designed to promote safer working practice within schools.
North Somerset Council said that Mr Hood had not been accused of any criminal involvement and that his dismissal did not indicate that he was party to Leat's activities.
It said that Leat was solely responsible for his own criminal behaviour and there was absolutely no suggestion that anyone other than him was involved in the offences.
The professional conduct panel is being held in Coventry and is expected to last three days.
Allegations of serious misconduct against a teacher may be referred to the Teaching Agency either by the teacher's employer, members of the public or the police.
The three-strong panel must decide whether the facts have been proven and whether to recommend to the Secretary of State that a prohibition order preventing the teacher from working be issued.
North Somerset Council confirmed its representatives would be attending the hearing to give evidence.
Hillside First School has since been renamed Worle Village School and has a new head, Susan Elliott.