Former head of Hillside First School to face professional conduct panel
By Prue_Reid | Sunday, March 10, 2013, 19:18
THE former headteacher of a Weston-super-Mare primary school where paedophile Nigel Leat carried out a catalogue of sexual attacks on students, is to face a disciplinary panel.
Hillside First School
Chris Hood, headteacher of Hillside First School until December 2011, is to face a professional conduct panel on Monday, March 11.
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 is being held by the Department for Education's Teaching Agency in Coventry and expected to last three days.
Representatives from North Somerset Council will be attending the hearing to give evidence.
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 three-strong panel, made up of professional and lay members, will then 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.
Mr Hood was the headteacher in charge of the school - now renamed Worle Village School and under the headship of Susan Elliott - when Leat was committing his horrific crimes.
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.
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.
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.
North Somerset Council confirmed it would be attending the hearing to give evidence.