Staff who ignored abuse claims can return to work
Headteacher and deputy failed to tell police about now-convicted teaching assistant
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.