GTC shows zero tolerance of nepotism

16th September 2011 at 01:00
Favours showered on a daughter lead to a head being struck off

A headteacher who made thousands of pounds in consultancy fees that she was not entitled to and abused her position to give jobs to family members has been banned from the profession.

Isabel Prynne, who was head of Bursted Wood Primary School in Bexley, south-east London, was paid #163;4,000 for a series of presentations on a Government-funded scheme without seeking approval from her governors, the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) ruled.

Ms Prynne also gave her daughter, Elena, a job as a reception teacher without advertising the role or considering any other members of staff, the GTC said.

After she started work on the graduate teacher programme, the head said that her daughter should not be placed on absence sheets and attempted to persuade staff mentoring her to rate her work as "outstanding in all respects". Ms Prynne's daughter was also given additional teaching assistants, with up to five adults in her lessons at once, which meant that pupils in other classes missed out on support, the GTC found. Pupils were also placed in classes to suit Ms Prynne's daughter.

An investigation into the head, who worked at Bursted Wood between 1998 and 2009, was launched after whistleblowers at the school reported her to the local authority.

Ms Prynne was found to have failed to follow proper accounting procedures, which resulted in the school losing more than #163;1,000 in a tax rebate.

The head also created a job as a computer technician for the partner of another of her daughters, even though witnesses claimed that he lacked essential skills.

A GTC professional conduct committee heavily criticised Ms Prynne for failing to show any insight or remorse into her actions, particularly the "adverse effect on her colleagues".

"We have concluded that the proven allegations involve behaviour which is fundamentally incompatible with being a registered teacher," its ruling said.

"We have heard evidence from a number of colleagues that Isabel Prynne abused her position as headteacher and this had a marked effect on her colleagues. We observed a number of witnesses who became distressed giving evidence to us because they felt they were unable to stand up to Isabel Prynne."

Bexley Council was also criticised by the GTC for not being aware of the "difficulties" experienced by staff at the school.

Ms Prynne was banned from the profession indefinitely and is no longer allowed to teach in state schools. She can apply to re-join the teaching register after two years, but will have to be approved by a panel in order to resume her career.

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