'Cavalier' teacher's trophy stash

26th September 2003 at 01:00
Book-keeping fell below acceptable professional standards. Nigel Iskander reports

A teacher who failed to account for more than pound;100 of school funds has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Neil Groves' cavalier attitude to financial procedures meant he kept cash he collected from pupils and parents in a silver trophy on his desk at the front of the class.

England's General Teaching Council heard he did not keep proper records for cash transactions for swimming trips, the Christmas panto and school photographs.

Mr Groves left Binbrook Church of England primary in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, last May after being found guilty at a conduct and competency hearing. He had worked at the school from January 2001 until autumn 2002.

Jenny Kitchen, headteacher, said she knew that Mr Groves had personal debt problems and that he worked every evening and weekend in a pub to supplement his earnings.

She became so worried about his slapdash accounting that she called in David Stubbs, an assistant county treasurer for Lincolnshire County Council, to investigate suspected misuse of resources.

Mr Stubbs' team conducted a formal investigation and observed that Mr Groves did not comply with either the county council's financial guidelines or the head's draft paper on the same subject.

Miss Kitchen told the GTCE:"He could not account for pound;54 missing from the Christmas panto trip in 2001, or money in sealed envelopes from two parents for school photographs.

"There were also discrepancies in the pupils' weekly pound;2 swimming trip money which he handed in to the school secretary."

She said the amount of cash missing when he left last May amounted to pound;112 but could well have been higher because of a lack of accurate records. He had also not returned a CD player belonging to the school.

Miss Kitchen told the panel that Mr Groves agreed that he had received cash but he could not remember what happened to it.

She told the GTCE that all other teachers at the school kept records of financial sales, and that it had been normal procedure at the school since before she had joined.

Miss Kitchen got her deputy head to work with Mr Groves twice a week to help him overcome problems, even providing him with two exercise books for swimming records with all the pupils names provided. However, Mr Groves'

entries were still inconsistent, and he eventually claimed to have lost the books.

Mr Groves, who was not present at the GTCE hearing, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. and it was made a condition he should seek a reference from an accredited teacher or local authority inspector before taking another teaching job.

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