Head banned over safeguarding failures

Issues with pupil who died could have been spotted earlier with better system in place, Teaching Regulation Agency report says

Mark Smulian

banned

A former headteacher has been barred from teaching for at least five years over deficiencies in safeguarding at his school that contributed to a pupil who later died not being identified as high risk early enough.

Peter Smalley was head of Southglade Primary School, Nottingham, when the seven-year-old, referred to as Pupil X, died away from school premises.

A professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency found that the 44-year-old did not provide staff with regular or effective safeguarding and child protection training, and did not have an adequate system in place to identify and record safeguarding and child protection issues.

The panel heard that he collaborated with another staff member to prepare a referral form for Pupil X in September 2014 for an incident on 18 July 2014 which was inaccurate and not approved by the teacher who wrote the original form, which was missing.

Mr Smalley admitted all the counts against him except that he had acted dishonestly in preparing the substitute referral form.

The panel accepted this and cleared him of dishonesty, saying: “We are satisfied that Mr Smalley was not aware of its inaccuracy and did not collaborate in its production in order to prepare an inaccurate self-serving version of events.”

But it held that the other matters amounted to unacceptable professional conduct that may bring the professional into disrepute.

Mr Smalley was head teacher of Southglade from September 2013 until February 2017 during which time he implemented a safeguarding system led by ‘Individual A’, a newly appointed learning mentor.

The panel found this set-up “turned an open-door scheme with extensive staff support, to a system within which there was a lack of feedback to concerns raised and from which staff members disengaged due to perceived and actual lack of support.

“Staff were repeatedly unaware of whether any concerns raised had been acted upon. The strongest sign of the lack of faith staff had in the system, was when Pupil X's class teacher, Witness A, contacted Pupil X's family support worker directly.”

It concluded: “If it had not been for those extensive systemic failures in Mr Smalley's management of safeguarding issues the chance to intervene in Pupil X's case would have been greatly increased. Pupil X would have been identified as high risk at a much earlier stage.”

It found that Mr Smalley had a good record as a teacher and took account of him having admitted the counts against him and so recommended that he be allowed to apply for reinstatement as a teacher after five years.

This was upheld by DfE decision maker Dawn Dandy.

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