A “dishonest” primary headteacher has been banned from the profession for changing Sats teacher assessments, carrying pupils, sending photos of a naked woman from his work email address and “inept record-keeping”.
David Farrar allegedly threatened to manage out a teacher who challenged his changes to Sats teacher assessments, and was observed carrying a pupil “like a roll of carpet”.
Mr Farrar was headteacher of Shrubland Street Primary School and executive head of Kingsway Primary School – both in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire – between 2009 and 2018.
In February 2017 an allegation was made to the police that he had used an inappropriate technique to restrain a Kingsway pupil and he was suspended from both schools.
Following his suspension, an internal investigation was carried out which raised further concerns about his behaviour, and he was dismissed from his role in February 2018.
A professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency has now found him responsible for “unacceptable professional conduct” and “conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute”.
'Inappropriate' physical contact
According to a teacher witness, Ms Farrar altered key stage 2 Sats teacher assessments. In a class of 27 pupils, the teacher said she had rated 16 as being at the level expected, with nine being below the necessary standard.
However, when she was presented with the final forms for signing, the assessment levels were “dramatically different”. Of the nine pupils originally rated as below the standard, just three remained in this category, with the others upgraded.
The teacher said that one of the pupils who had their assessment changed “would often struggle to stay awake at school” and was of “very low academic ability” but had been awarded a score by Mr Farrar equating to two years’ progress in one year.
Another was scored as working at Year 2 level at the end of Year 5, but their Sats assessment in Year 6 was upgraded so they were at the expected level.
The teacher said that when they challenged Mr Farrar about the changes, he responded in a “low, threatening voice”: “Well I’ve managed better people than you out of your position."
The TRA panel said that his conduct “can only be viewed as dishonest behaviour, which lacked integrity”.
The panel found that he had engaged in “inappropriate and unnecessary” physical contact with two pupils. On one occasion, a teacher at Kingsway said they saw Mr Farrar pick up a pupil “like a roll of carpet” and carry them.
Because the pupil was wriggling, the teacher said that Mr Farrar “ended up gripping him around the neck and throat”.
On another occasion, he was seen dragging a pupil described as being the “most vulnerable” at the school. The teacher said Mr Farrar’s knuckles were white from dragging the pupil, who was crying and holding on to a doorframe.
He was also seen to perform an incorrect “wrap hold” on the pupil. At this point the pupil allegedly screamed, “You’re hurting my heart, let go!”
The teacher witness said they had never witnessed "anything so distressing" and reported the incident to the police in the evening.
The panel found that Mr Farrar had sent emails of an inappropriate nature from his work account or during working hours.
These included “a number of images of a naked adult female and an adult female in lingerie” forwarded from his Shrubland head account to his personal Shrubland account, and emails related to online gaming sent during working hours.
He was also found to have used “inappropriate language” in emails, including using the phrase: “Frankly, it looks like they could have cast her ass in bronze as well!”
The panel found that Mr Farrar had failed to adequately manage the financial affairs of Shrubland. Work by a contractor paid to provide dancing and cheerleading lessons was not correctly recorded.
“Without such a record, a school leaves itself vulnerable to financial abuse,” the panel said, although it “accepted that this situation appeared to be created from circumstances of inept record-keeping rather than anything nefarious”.
The contractor was also paid for their services without a written contract – receiving approximately £32,700 between July 2015 to January 2017 – which the panel said was a failure to ensure “sound financial management of public funds”.
Mr Farrar did not attend the TRA hearing because he said the process was “traumatic and draining”. He accepted he had changed the teacher assessments, but said this was because he had knowledge of the pupils' abilities. He defended his handling of the two pupils
He accepted the allegations relating to the emails and that he authorised payments that had not been accurately recorded, although he said there was nothing inappropriate about his decision not to use a written contract.
The education secretary’s decision maker, Alan Meyrick, accepted the panel’s recommendation that he should be banned from the profession with the ability to apply to overturn the prohibition after eight years.