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Former 'superhead' Liam Nolan banned from teaching

Ex-academy chief found guilty of unprofessional conduct for receiving ‘second salary’ while head of Perry Beeches trust

Liam Nolan, formerly of Perry Beeches Academy Trust in Birmingham

Ex-academy chief found guilty of unprofessional conduct for receiving ‘second salary’ while head of Perry Beeches trust

Liam Nolan has been banned from teaching indefinitely for unprofessional conduct after receiving a "second salary".

A Teaching Regulation Agency report, published this afternoon, said it was “satisfied that Mr Nolan is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct”.

But the former head of the now-defunct Perry Beeches Academy Trust is allowed to ask for the prohibition to be reviewed after two years.

The former “superhead” was last month found guilty of unprofessional conduct after being accused of dishonest conduct and a lack of integrity in relation to £160,000 of payments he received while chief executive of the trust.

2016 investigation by the Education Funding Authority revealed the trust had paid almost £1.3 million to Nexus Schools Ltd without following proper procedures.

Nexus then paid Mr Nolan £160,000 over two years through his company, Liam Nolan Ltd, on top of his £120,000 annual salary.

Today’s report says the TRA panel found Mr Nolan guilty of a number of allegations, including not being paid through payroll with no “exceptional temporary circumstances” to justify this, and failing to ensure the payments were disclosed in the trust’s financial statements.

The report says Mr Nolan had signed a statement in the trust’s 2013-14 accounts stating that “no instances of material irregularity, impropriety or funding non-compliance had been discovered”, whereas in fact he “knew or ought to have known that this was not the case”.

The report says: “The panel was satisfied that Mr Nolan signed the declaration with a reckless disregard for its accuracy and without considering the requirements of the [Academies Financial Handbook] before doing so.

'Lack of integrity'

“In so acting, the panel was in no doubt that Mr Nolan failed to adhere to the ethical standards of the teaching profession.”

It adds: “The panel did not accept Mr Nolan's assertion that he was 'an educator not an accountant', particularly when he had accepted a leadership role of such magnitude.

“In particular, the panel was concerned that Mr Nolan's errors and omissions related to his own remuneration.”

An allegation that no confirmation was sought that Mr Nolan’s pay arrangements met his tax obligations was not proved.

The report says Mr Nolan “apologised for some of his failings as accounting officer”.

However, it adds that “there did not appear to be sufficient insight into the seriousness of those failings or his responsibility in that post. In particular, the panel was concerned that Mr Nolan blamed the trustees, accountants and others for the remuneration arrangements that are at the heart of this case.”

The panel did not receive any mitigating evidence from third parties, but accepted that he “has made a significant contribution to the profession”, and “considered that there was a public interest consideration in retaining Mr Nolan in the profession”.

However, in deciding to ban him from teaching, the panel concluded that “upholding proper standards of conduct” outweighed retaining a good teacher in the profession.

The report adds: “Mr Nolan's cavalier attitude to his role as accounting officer, which the panel found involved a lack of integrity on his part, was a significant factor in forming that opinion.”

It says Mr Nolan should be able to ask for the prohibition to be reviewed after two years, which would allow him “a period in which to reflect on his failings and gain appropriate insight”.

Sarah Lewis, who made the final decision on behalf of the education secretary, approved the panel’s recommendations.

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