Staff who ig­nored abuse claims can re­turn to work

Head­teacher and deputy failed to tell police about now-con­victed teach­ing as­sis­tant

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Kather­ine Clemen­tine kather­ine.clemen­tine@trin­i­tymir­

A FOR­MER Uxbridge High School prin­ci­pal, and his deputy, who failed to pro­tect a 13-year-old pupil from abuse at the hands of a teach­ing as­sis­tant can re­turn to work, a tri­bunal has ruled.

Peter Lang, ex-head of the school, and pre­vi­ous vice-prin­ci­pal Ju­dith Bar­ton failed to tell police about se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions that could have helped police catch now-con­victed pae­dophile Kevin Sem­pers.

Lang ig­nored an anony­mous phone tip-off, alert­ing him to mes­sages sent to the pupil on Face­book with ref­er­ence by Sem­pers to the navel or ‘belly’ and cleav­age of the girl and that he had said words to the ef­fect of he ‘wished she were older’.

Sem­pers, who at­tended Brunel Univer­sity and was a de­cath­lete who com­peted at the 2010 Com­mon­wealth Games in Delhi, mo­lested the school­girl on two con­sec­u­tive days af­ter first con­tact­ing her on Face­book.

The 30-year-old was jailed for 18 months in De­cem­ber 2014, and placed on the sex of­fend­ers’ regis­ter for 10 years, af­ter ad­mit­ting two counts of en­gag­ing in sex­ual ac­tiv­ity with a child.

Lang and Bar­ton, who was also the school’s des­ig­nated safe­guard­ing of­fi­cer (DSO), both re­signed fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent. Lang ad­mit­ted fail­ing to ad­e­quately in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tion against Sem­pers and fail­ing to in­form the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties about the safe­guard­ing con­cerns.

He had told the hear­ing of his ‘deep re­morse’ for what hap­pened to the girl but in­sisted none of his ac­tions were de­lib­er­ate.

Bar­ton, who did not at­tend the three-day hear­ing, ad­mit­ted safe­guard­ing fail­ures but said she gave per­sonal sup­port af­ter the ini­tial Face­book in­ci­dent.

Three years have passed since the in­ci­dent, and Uxbridge High School now has a new prin­ci­pal, Mr Nigel Cle­mens, who has been in post since late 2014.

A spokesman for the school said: “Our main pri­or­ity con­tin­ues to be the wel­fare and safety of all of our stu­dents at all times.

“In the three years since 2013, the school’s safe­guard­ing pro­ce­dures have been con­firmed by in­de­pen­dent au­di­tors as ro­bust and go above the stan­dards ex­pected.”

Lang and Bar­ton can now re­turn to work af­ter a Na­tional Col­lege of Teach­ing and Lead­er­ship tri­bunal de­cided there was no need to ban them from the pro­fes­sion.

An NCTL panel found that Bar­ton had failed to pro­tect and pro­vide sup­port for the pupil in 2013 but found that she did not fail in the same du­ties in 2011. She ad­mit­ted fail­ing to act ad­e­quately in re­gard to safe­guard­ing.

She was also found to have failed to ac­cu­rately record safe­guard­ing logs and fail­ing to have dis­closed full de­tails of the ini­tial al­le­ga­tions at a strat­egy meet­ing in 2013.

The panel noted that Of­sted had rated the school as ‘out­stand­ing’ for child pro­tec­tion and safe­guard­ing in 2011 and that Bar­ton had “gained a false sense of re­as­sur­ance from such an as­sess­ment and be­lieved that she was ful­fill­ing her role com­pe­tently”.

Mike Carter, chair of the NCTL panel, said: “Mr Lang failed to ap­proach this in­ci­dent as a mat­ter of safe­guard­ing or child pro­tec­tion de­spite the fact that he was aware that the con­tent of the Face­book mes­sage ref­er­enced Pupil A’s navel and cleav­age.

“He had failed to keep him­self suf­fi­ciently in­formed of is­sues re­lat­ing to child pro­tec­tion and safe­guard­ing to en­able him to fully un­der­stand the ex­pec­ta­tions of him as prin­ci­pal.

“The panel was sat­is­fied that Ms Bar­ton’s fail­ures were not de­lib­er­ate and that, at all times, she had en­deav­oured to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of chil­dren un­der her charge and to ad­dress the is­sues with which she was con­fronted.

“It was the panel’s opinion, af­ter ex­ten­sive de­lib­er­a­tion, that Ms Bar­ton had made se­ri­ous er­rors of judge­ment and that, un­for­tu­nately, there had been con­se­quences which had flowed from those er­rors.

“The panel was sat­is­fied that Ms Bar­ton had shown a proper level of in­sight and had also shown gen­uine re­morse.”

n CON­VICTED: Teach­ing as­sis­tant and for­mer de­cath­lete Kevin Sem­pers ad­mit­ted two counts of sex­ual ac­tiv­ity with the 13-year-old girl - a tip off about his ac­tions was ig­nored.

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