School failure over pervert teacher
A teacher was able to film himself abusing young girls in his classroom because the school's bosses failed to act on his increasingly sexual behaviour, an independent report has revealed.
Nigel Leat, 51, was described by a judge as a "paedophile of the most sickening order" when he was jailed indefinitely last year after abusing five girls - some as young as six years old. Leat, of Bloomfield Road, Bristol, admitted 36 offences, including attempted rape of a child and sexual assault on children.
Senior managers at Hillside First School in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, had repeatedly been told of Leat's inappropriate behaviour by fellow teachers but failed to act. The school's own management report notes at least 30 incidents of Leat's "inappropriate or unprofessional conduct" - but only 11 were recorded formally within the school.
The married father of two's abuse only came to light in December 2010 when one of his victims told her mother that Leat had been sexually assaulting her almost daily for the previous two months. The girl's mother called police and Leat was arrested.
The shocking catalogue of failed opportunities to tackle Leat was revealed in a serious case review published on Thursday, which made 32 recommendations for improvement.
The North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board commissioned the report following the pervert's arrest. The report identified 20 pupils who were witnesses or victims of abuse committed by Leat and said his behaviour was "typical of the grooming" perpetrated by paedophiles.
"The management report from the school makes reference to at least 30 incidents of inappropriate or unprofessional conduct involving the teacher," the report stated. "There is a substantial body of evidence that points to the fact that the concerns about the behaviour, teaching practice and relationships of the teacher were not appropriately dealt with.
The report said that although Hillside First School was identified by Ofsted as academically successful, it had not been matched by a culture of safeguarding and it blamed the management style. Senior management also failed to notify the school's governors or the local education authority with the concerns that had been raised about Leat.
The serious case review added: "The clear lesson emerging from this review is that it is not sufficient for a school to have a culture that focuses only on attainment. A school culture needs to recognise that if children are to achieve their potential they must first be assured of a safe environment, in which any risks that they may face will be given full and open consideration by staff at all levels in the organisation."
The board has recommended the serious case review is read by head teachers, governors and safeguarding boards across the country because of the issues it raises and the recommendations it makes.