A headteacher who let her sex offender son on to school grounds has been slapped with a lifetime teaching ban.
‘Long-standing and well-respected’ Julia Griffiths admitted allowing her son on to the premises of Mickle Trafford Village School just weeks after he was convicted for viewing indecent images of children and that her work laptop was used to access adult gay porn.
A National College of Teaching and Leadership professional conduct panel found that the conduct of 57-year-old Mrs Griffiths, who was also head of safeguarding at the ‘outstanding’ school, ‘fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession’.
Her son, who lived with her, volunteered at the school for a period before he was arrested in September 2014.
By virtue of his conviction in May 2015, Mrs Griffiths was disqualified from providing any care for children of reception age and younger but successfully sought a waiver from Ofsted and reached an agreement with Mickle Trafford Village School in relation to what she could and could not do regarding Early Years and Foundation Stage (EYFS) pupils, enabling her to keep working there.
She breached this arrangement, however, by letting him on the school premises on June 25, 2015, by taking a school laptop home to carry out EYFS work, and contravened the school’s IT acceptable use policy because pornography was accessed on the computer.
The panel's findings did not reveal who accessed the inappropriate material.
Mrs Griffiths – who resigned after nearly 10 years at the helm of Mickle Trafford in August last year– blamed her actions on ‘extreme stress’ caused by what was going on in her private life.
'Out of character'
Recommending a prohibition order be imposed with immediate effect, the panel stated: “The panel accepts that Mrs Griffiths is a long-standing and well-respected headteacher with an unblemished history.
“The school which she led was an outstanding primary school with high standards and high expectations.
“It is clear that the actions being investigated here took place whilst Mrs Griffiths was under significant personal and work-related stress and that her actions are out of character.”
Agreeing with the panel’s recommendations, Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening’s decision maker Jayne Millions said: “Mrs Griffiths did not prioritise the safeguarding of pupils in the school when she acted in breach of the agreement that had been put in place.
“Mrs Griffiths’ behaviour is such that a prohibition order is appropriate and proportionate.”
The order was imposed for life, but Mrs Griffiths will be able to apply for a review after two years, and has a right of appeal to the High Court.
Mickle Trafford Village School has sought to put parents' minds at rest that there was never any risk to their children's safety.
Headteacher Wendy Lyon said: “I would reassure parents that at no stage were any of our pupils at risk and that all safeguarding procedures at the school were found to be effective and robust.
“The member of staff concerned resigned from her position in August 2015 and the school has co-operated with the police at every stage of the investigation.”