Champers 'on school funds' - and that's just for starters: the head on 30 charges

23rd April 2010 at 01:00
GTC to hear litany of accusations against former secondary leader, from unauthorised payments to shouting at pupils

A former head accused of using education funds to buy pink champagne and asking staff to help her family cheat the school admissions system is facing disciplinary charges that could result in her being struck off.

Despina Pavlou, former headteacher of Lord Grey School in Milton Keynes, faces a four-month General Teaching Council for England (GTC) hearing charged with 30 counts of unacceptable professional conduct.

She is alleged to have given cash to staff without it going through the school's official payroll system and using the money "inappropriately" by buying wine and a shed. Miss Pavlou is also charged with asking Caron Horne, her PA at Lord Grey, to find a new school for her nephew.

She asked Ms Horne to find accommodation so that the nephew's family could say they lived in the new school's catchment area, it is alleged.

The list of accusations also includes employing a relative, Maria Kitsis, as a consultant and not telling governors.

She later gave Ms Kitsis #163;2,800 in extra payment unofficially, the GTC will hear.

Shamima Ahmed, another member of staff, was given monthly cheques for rent and travel unofficially, it is alleged.

Miss Pavlou is also accused of speaking and behaving "inappropriately" towards staff and pupils, including shouting at pupils about to be excluded. She denies all the charges against her.

Miss Pavlou was headteacher of Lord Grey between September 2000 and March 2006, when she was suspended.

Before she left the school she was accused of assaulting her deputy head, although police did not press charges.

In 2003, Lord Grey was praised by Ofsted for being a "good school". "It has improved significantly through very good leadership with a strong focus on learning," inspectors said.

But a subsequent inspection in April 2007, after Miss Pavlou had left, noted that the school was "emerging from a period of considerable instability of both leadership and staffing" that had "slowed the rate of school improvement".

Miss Pavlou's time at Lord Grey also attracted headlines when a former pupil attempted to sue the school after being permanently excluded. The boy, who had been accused of lighting a fire in a bin, claimed the exclusion breached his "right to education".

The GTC case, which heard evidence this week, is expected to last until July. Nine teachers and two children will give evidence.

The case will also include allegations that Miss Pavlou failed to check if all her staff had a Criminal Records Bureau check prior to starting jobs, failed to tell governors about the full circumstances and cost of a trip to Australia, and not giving governors detailed information about the school's finances.

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