North Somerset serious case review after school teacher sex scandal

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By thepickler | Friday, January 27, 2012, 15:50

A SERIES of  'failures at every' level led to the  crimes of paedophile Nigel Leat - who abused dozens of children at a Weston-super-Mare primary school -  going undiscovered for years.

Leat. 52, a teacher at Hillside First School,  was jailed for an indefinite term after admitted a total of 32 offences against five female students - some as young as six - on school property from September 2006 to July 2010.

The former musician, who started working at the school in 1995, was arrested at the school in December 2010 after a parent disclosed to a teacher that Leat had been touching her daughter indecently on almost a daily basis.

The crimes were one count of attempted rape, eight sexual assaults by penetration and 23 further sexual assaults.

Father of two Leat also admitted charges of voyeurism; causing or inciting a child aged under 13 to engage in a sexual act; possessing more than 30,000 indecent photographs and movies of children, and possessing extreme pornography.

Within days of learning of abuse allegations, North Somerset Safeguarding Commissioning Board launched an independent review, the findings of which were published this week.

And although a series of recommendations have been put in place, board chairman, Tony Oliver, said he could not guarantee similar incidents would not happen.

Mr Oliver said: "I find the fact the incidents were not acted upon incredible.

"There was a failure at every level within the school.

"But I cannot say that it will never happen again."

It is understood that over his 15 years at the school Leat, of Brislington, could have assaulted up to 40 victims -  some of which may have now left the school and are still to come forward.

The review looked at what happened, where, why and how and what measures could be taken from preventing it happening again.

In the review, written by social care consultant Mike Craddock, it revealed that there were 30 recorded incidents of Leat behaving in an inappropriate or unprofessional manner.

Only 11 of the 30 incidents were reported within the school to the headteacher, but were not taken any further or reported to designated North Somerset safeguarding officers.

It was also revealed on at least one occasion, a staff member suggested a referral to the local authority designated officer should be made, but the suggestion was overruled - allegedly by the headteacher. Governors were also not notified.

It was also revealed that on a number of occasions colleagues had advised Leat of the inappropriateness of his behaviour and pointed out the risk that he could have been accused of professional misconduct.

All staff and governors at the school had been issued with clear guidance and training about the actions to be taken to minimise the risk of harm to schoolchildren.

But questions were raised about the effectiveness of the training

North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board chairman, Tony Oliver, said: "Overall there was significant failure to comply with the guidance designed to promote safer working practice within schools.

"The failure of the school to take action in response to concerns raised was compounded by the failure of the school to recognise that Nigel Leat's behaviour may have constituted grooming for sexual abuse.

"There was a lamentable failure to create an environment in which the needs of the child were paramount and good practice was promoted."

Disliplinary action was taken against headteacher Chris Hood who was sacked in December last year. No further action is being taken against him.

Mr Oliver said: "Nigel Leat and Nigel Leat alone, was responsible for this criminal behaviour at Hillside First School.

"There is absolutely no suggestion that anyone other than him was involved in these offences."

The report also revealed that the appropriate employment practices were not fully adhered to during the recruitment of Leat.

However it did state that even if the recruitment practices had been closely followed, it was possible Leat - who had been police checked when appointed - would have still got the job.

OFSTED inspectors also failed to identify any issues at the school during a visit in 2009, with inspectors noting how 'pupils felt exceptionally safe and secure because they know that staff have their well being at heart and are always prepared to listen, help and take action.

OFSTED said it was unable to provide evidence on which the judgements were based as records are not retained for more than six months.

The board has come up with six areas of learning in the review, covering historical concerns, handling of complaints, disciplinary and child protection matters, the use of technology in schools, employment practice in the school and the selection of prospective teachers, the creation of a safe environment and a culture for children and young people and child protection training for staff and governors.

The recommendations will apply to schools across the district.

In the report it said: "In terms of safeguarding, parents of children at the school rightly expected their children would be cared for and kept safe.

"Procedures were not followed and this prevented the correct action from being taken.

"Concerns were not followed up and this led to children not being protected from Nigel Leat.

"This was a gross failure of responsibility.

"What the serious case review report clearly shows is that a culture of safeguarding children at the school needed to be much stronger."

The serious case review makes 32 recommendations - which will now be implemented - all of which have been accepted by the board.

Mr Oliver added: "This action plan will remain a priority on the board's agenda until the recommendations have been implemented."

Mr Oliver recommended that the review should now be read by every head teacher, chair of governors and safeguarding boards across the country.

The review has also been submitted to education watchdog OFSTED.

      

Comments

       
  • Profile image for MDSHydroGeo

    I may put this web site up for the Birthday honours of Government telecomms prosecutors (that is listed for later investigation) award for its disgusting contributors uncontrolled, the failure to provide an editing system for posts, the persistent insurrection practiced. I will think how best to do that in the general crackdown that is about to put about 200,000 UK people out of work income and the bloggers out of the 'net for good. You can join the BBC in the Museum dust with the dinosaurs, never was such a great opportunity missed by so few to the damage of so many children reading and that was not Winston Churchill, it was I said that (as also Bob Dylan wrote).

    By MDSHydroGeo at 22:43 on 27/01/12

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  • Profile image for MDSHydroGeo

    You were not there when University and School staff had the right honoured to do the job properly before we were all tied up by the false equal opportunity legislation and later school child molester writers in the Telegraph, in those days they never got through the barb wire although we never had any alike Gordano is surrounded by to keep the hounds and alcoholics out, as we were respected for doing a good job on taxed pre-paid and at least a month late, no cash incentives, no expenses, without any private contract deals and pay in competitions run by TV. There are obviously some good teachers left or you would never have heard this rubbish run by Television and you that are disinterested. There are no golden handshakes, just hard work. I had foul things asked of me to sign and properly refused, so as you rely on the hash on places alike Yahoo "Science News" just remember most of it is politics and a Nintendo game player should not be allowed near it for his own safety. Just as well you are too old to get into the Open University as even that requires A'levels these days of some clout. More like pewter plated pensions. Still as Glen Campbell said what is the point of besting a fool. Anyway stay away from Yahoo News it is mostly anarchic riot generating inciting to terrorism and when it actually gets Science you may know. After 45 years you can stew in your own boiling pot I can say what I like not collecting money for University and statistics leaked to TV nor ever having had anything to do with School teaching except the dreaded Parent Teacher meetings all parents have to suffer where we are treated alike twits as if we never graduated and qualified, all children dread and all teachers work endless hours to prepare for, stupid Laptop jokes I nearly got up and walked out of the third time from the abuse received. And that was not that received from other pupils. I wonder if we could have an Inspector of People who write on web sites to eradicate a few by law? Last parting shot I dumped Yahoo the contributors cannot string a sentence together for the most part and if I can I will get MBEs and greater for teachers to add to their degree, teacher training, Masters, training, in service days and allow them all to retire at 45 on full pension. That as soon as the Scots accept independence when the sea turns purple at the now earliest expected date under the dusts blowing in the winds over Lanark.

    By MDSHydroGeo at 22:10 on 27/01/12

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  • Profile image for romeohotel

    As a British Taxpayer I wouldn't mind subsidising their gold plated pensions so much IF they actually managed to do their jobs properly.
    They've certainly failed to protect our children, and I'm not that sure they're doing that much to educate them properly either.

    By romeohotel at 17:09 on 27/01/12

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