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Two-year ban on head who stole pound;8,000

A headteacher who stole more than pound;8,000 from her school has been banned from teaching for at least two years.

Diana Hopkinson set up an unofficial school fund at a building society for St Andrew's CofE primary, in Salford, Manchester, without informing anybody and took the money herself.

She claimed at a General Teaching Council disciplinary hearing that she had used the fund to pay for resources such as books and furniture and some staff salaries. "I just regret that I didn't keep a record of it," she said.

Her excuses failed to convince the GTC or Manchester crown court, which sentenced her to 100 hours community service in September 2004 for 10 offences.

The GTC committee in Birmingham last week heard that Mrs Hopkinson, from West Yorkshire, had cashed cheques from Manchester Metropolitan university for student placements and from the school's advisory service.

The offences came to light after she resigned in December 2002, and her successor discovered a pound;90,000 budget deficit. Bea Schouten said:

"Our Sats results plummeted, partly as a result of the turmoil of the previous year."

Mrs Hopkinson admitted to the tribunal: "As far as standards go, it's obviously not what is expected. But the pupils would remember me fondly."

Charles Hopkinson, who represented his wife, said she was an exceptional teacher and that "what she did bears no relevance in her ability to teach".

But the GTC imposed a two-year probation order. Gail Mortimer, committee chair, said: "Over a period of three years you systematically stole money from the school. Your dishonesty and deception were persistent."

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