A former primary head has been banned from teaching after he admitted awarding IT contracts worth more than £1 million over five years to his partner without governors’ approval.
Greg Wallace was executive principal at Best Start Federation – a group of five schools in Hackney, East London – and was named by the then education secretary Michael Gove as one of the “magnificent seven” superheads in a speech in 2012.
The ban was imposed despite a recommendation to the contrary from the National College for Teaching and Leadership's professional misconduct panel, which heard the case. The panel said that Mr Wallace should be able to continue teaching because of his “exceptional work” in improving the education of children in challenging areas.
But it was overruled by Jayne Millions, a Department for Education official, acting on behalf of education secretary Nicky Morgan, who said a ban was necessary. She said that the panel had not taken sufficient account of the public concern that would arise if this case was not treated with “the utmost seriousness”.
Mr Wallace admitted that:
- He paid more than £1 million over five years to C2 Technology for ICT services in his federation's schools without written quotations or governors’ approval;
- He did not declare in writing a conflict of interest – that the principal director and shareholder of C2 Technology was his partner;
- He disclosed confidential information to his partner about the tendering bids made to his federation by competitors of C2 Technology.
'There was no dishonesty'
The panel said that although no dishonesty had been found, “Mr Wallace showed a disregard for proper procedures by failing to declare conflicts of interests and by disclosing confidential information to a bidder regarding competing bids”.
But it also pointed out that it believed Mr Wallace’s actions were wholly motivated by a desire to improve educational outcomes and added there was an “element of duress” brought about by being encouraged to take on more schools.
The panel report said that since resigning as executive principal at Best Start Federation, Mr Wallace had played a “valuable role” within the Harris Federation and said there was an “unusually significant public interest in Mr Wallace being able to continue his exceptional work” and so did not recommend a prohibition order.
The ban on teaching was imposed with a review period of two years, meaning Mr Wallace may apply to have the ban lifted after May 2018. Ms Millions said that Mr Wallace "should have the opportunity to re-enter the profession in the future".