Pupil files left on rubbish tip

20th January 2006 at 00:00
Head accused of failing to protect confidential records

The former head of a Nottingham pupil referral unit is facing a charge of unacceptable professional conduct after confidential school records on children were dumped on a council rubbish tip.

Robert Naylor had a lax approach to running St George's Priory pupil-referral unit, a disciplinary hearing was told last week.

The 52-year-old was said to be too busy taking his deputy out for long lunches to keep track of what was happening inside the school.

England's General Teaching Council heard that a cabinet full of confidential information was mistakenly discarded at a council tip in May 2003. A binman found the files and telephoned one pupil's horrified parents, who complained to the authorities.

Mr Naylor, who resigned in May 2004, denies unacceptable professional conduct during his time as head of the unit.

It is alleged that he would disappear for up to two hours a day with Jane Deas, deputy head, for lunch or training courses.

The pair, who had offices next to each other at the 37-pupil school, would also telephone and text each other throughout the day, out of working hours and during school holidays.

The disciplinary panel was told Mr Naylor ran up excessive bills on a school mobile telephone, sending up to 15 text messages daily to Ms Deas between August and October 2003, resulting in a pound;200 bill on one occasion, The hearing in Birmingham last week was told that his lax approach to running the school led to several breaches of regulations spotted by auditors at Nottinghamshire county council.

It heard that the charge against him included problems between October 2002 and May 2004, ranging from failing to maintain accurate records to ensuring the unit was managed properly in his absence.

When he was challenged about the messages, he refused to allow auditors to examine the telephone.

Simon Thomas, representing Mr Naylor, said the overwhelming majority of the messages sent to Ms Deas were business-related and that the pair would have regular working lunches.

Mr Naylor told the panel that he often worked more hours than were expected of him and said the school had been praised in an Ofsted inspection in 2003 as "well led and well managed".

He said that, as a qualified trainer for the county, he often worked off site, but denied he took unnecessarily long lunch breaks and said that he only took Ms Deas away from the unit when no pupils were enrolled. "I often combined lunch with working because it is easier to discuss sensitive issues with my deputy off site.

"(But) there is certainly no way I would have just taken 130 minutes for lunch."

Mr Naylor denied the school was not properly managed in his absence and said he was given permission to use his work mobile for personal calls and tended to favour text messaging because it was cheaper and easier.

He said he refused to hand over his telephone to investigators following advice from his union representative.

When asked about the filing cabinet, Mr Naylor said he had asked his administrative assistant to empty the drawers before it was dumped, and admitted he should have checked more thoroughly.

"I acknowledge this was an oversight and I should have checked the cabinets again before they went to the tip," he said.

The hearing was adjourned until March 3.

* newsdesk@tes.co.uk

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