Panel to rule on future of headteacher of school where paedophile preyed
A DECISION on the future of teacher Chris Hood - who was in charge of a Weston-super-Mare primary school where paedophile Nigel Leat carried out a catalogue of sex attacks on students - is expected in the next few weeks.
Chris Hood, the former headteacher of Hillside First School, faced a professional conduct panel in Coventry last week.
Mr Hood was the headteacher in charge of the school - now renamed Worle Village School - when Leat was committing his horrific crimes.
Leat joined the school in 1995 and Mr Hood was appointed headteacher in 2001.
Leat was jailed for an indefinite term after admitted a total of 36 offences including 32 against five female students - some as young as six - on school property from September 2006 to July 2010.
The crimes were one count of attempted rape, eight sexual assaults by penetration and 23 further sexual assaults.
Father of two Leat, who worked at the school for 15 years, also admitted charges of voyeurism; causing or inciting a child aged under 13 to engage in a sexual act; possessing more than 30,000 indecent photographs and movies of children, and possessing extreme pornography.
A serious case review, commissioned by the North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board, revealed that there were 30 recorded incidents of Leat behaving in an inappropriate or unprofessional manner.
Only 11 of the 30 incidents were reported within the school to Mr Hood, but were not taken any further or reported to designated North Somerset safeguarding officers.
Mr Hood was suspended in January 2011 by governors pending a disciplinary inquiry into the leadership and management of the school then dismissed in December 2011.
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 Nigel Leat's activities.
The professional conduct panel was held by the Department for Education's Teaching and lasted three days.
A three-strong panel, made up of professional and lay members, will now decide whether the facts have been proven at the hearing and whether to recommend to the Secretary of State that a prohibition order preventing the teacher from working be issued.
Representatives from North Somerset Council attended the hearing to give evidence and a decision on Mr Hood's future - and whether he can teach again - is expected in the coming weeks.
North Somerset Council spokeswoman Zoe Briffitt, said: "We are not expecting a decision for a couple of weeks."
Allegations of serious misconduct against a teacher may be referred to the Teaching Agency either by the teacher's employer where the teacher has been dismissed, members of the public or the police.
The serious case review 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.
It added however that Nigel Leat alone was responsible for his criminal behaviour and there was absolutely no suggestion that anyone other than him was involved in the offences.