A primary head has been banned from the profession for a minimum of three years for safeguarding failures, which included allowing his pupils to travel unsupervised in a taxi.
A Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) professional conduct panel found Neil Jinks, a former headteacher at Holy Rosary Catholic Primary School in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, to have allowed pupils to travel to a sporting event in a taxi without adult supervision in March 2017. He admitted the allegation.
Mr Jinks, 56, claimed parents had given consent for their children to travel alone, and he stated that parental consent forms were “produced and obtained for the event”. Mr Jinks said the form “included that the parent consented for the school to organise transportation to the event”.
But the panel did not consider that this amounted to "permission for the school to put children in a taxi unsupervised and as such found that parental consent was not obtained for this activity”.
Mr Jinks gave evidence stating he had prepared a generic risk assessment that covered external sports events and the use of a DBS-cleared taxi firm. In evidence to the panel, he asserted that this was acceptable.
However, the panel noted that this risk assessment formed part of a “bundle” containing a number of assessments not related to the specific activity in March 2017. It therefore found an allegation that Mr Jinks allowed pupils to travel unsupervised without a risk assessment to be proven.
It also found that Mr Jinks failed to ensure adequate employment checks were made on staff. The panel heard evidence from one witness that she had to “chase” staff for qualification documents, and heard evidence from another witness that not one staff file was complete in accordance with 2016 guidance.
Mr Jinks admitted having failed to follow the safeguarding requirement to keep a single central record detailing all staff working with children in the school, along with identity checks for anyone in contact with children in the school.
And he admitted he had not immediately updated school policies to reflect new safeguarding rules.
The TRA panel also found that:
- Mr Jinks made a false claim about a reference for his son from another school. The panel found Mr Jinks to be “dishonest by the standards of the ordinary honest person,” and that his conduct “fell below the ethical standards expected of a member of the teaching profession and therefore lacked integrity”.
- Mr Jinks did not ensure a fire risk assessment was adequately or accurately completed in 2016-2017. The fire risk assessment was contained in the bundle on his computer. This had not been approved by governors. The panel heard evidence about fire risks in the school which contradicted information in the fire risk assessment.
- The head did not take action about an unsafe water tank and the panel therefore found he placed the health and safety of the children at the school at risk.
- He failed to register a colleague as an NQT in 2016 and did not ensure that reviews of NQTs were completed adequately.
- He did not complete the appropriate forms for overseas trips.
Mr Alan Meyrick, acting on behalf of the secretary of state, noted that Mr Jinks had a previously “unblemished” teaching career, yet his failures to ensure safeguarding made a prohibition order appropriate.
Mr Jinks may apply for the order to be set aside in 2022.