Head who hired known paedophile escapes ban

12th February 2010 at 00:00
School leader given GTC reprimand for employing sex offender to work with photos of pupils

A headteacher who hired a known paedophile to carry out work for her school has escaped a ban from the profession.

Kathleen Tyson, who was dismissed from her position at Holy Trinity CofE Primary in Darwen, Lancashire, in 2007, was aware the man had been convicted of sexually assaulting a child and possessing indecent images of children when she asked him to do various tasks, a General Teaching Council for England (GTC) panel heard.

The paedophile, named only as "Mr A", was also on List 99, which meant he was banned from working with children. Despite this he worked at the school for 18 months between 2006 and 2007, carrying out repairs and designing the prospectus, which allowed him access to images of pupils.

Formerly a recruitment consultant at an agency called Simmonds, Mr A had been convicted in August 2005 of sexual assault on a person under 13 years and possessing indecent images of children. He was jailed for eight months and put on the sex offenders register, which Mrs Tyson knew before he started working at the school but failed to tell her local authority.

Mrs Tyson, who was found to have no financial interest in the work, also did not raise orders for all Mr A's tasks with the local council, or tell anyone she knew him. The panel said she was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, and had damaged the reputation of the school.

"We have concluded that your actions in engaging the services of Mr A, who you knew had been convicted of sex offences on children and was on List 99, brought the profession into disrepute," it said.

"We have accepted ... submissions that there is no evidence that pupils or the public were directly harmed by your actions.

"As part of the bundle of evidence we have noted that there are copies of the local press cuttings around the time of your suspension and dismissal. We have decided that these headlines suggest that the public reputation of the profession and Holy Trinity School were damaged by your actions."

Mrs Tyson said the incident had happened "at a time of significant stress" when she had a "significant workload". Ofsted inspectors had previously said she was a good teacher and manager.

However, the panel reprimanded her. "We believe that you appreciate that you did make a grave error in your connection with Mr A and in using him to provide services to the school," it said.

"The issues in this case result from the course of action which you chose to take with Mr A and your poor judgment in engaging his services. We are concerned that you have shown limited insight into your actions. However, we are satisfied that you will not behave in a similar way in the future and have noted that you are no longer connected with Mr A."

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