Paedophile scandal - headteacher sacked
THE headteacher whose school was at the centre of a paedophile scandal has this week been sacked - and parents are calling for governors who publicly supported him to face the axe as well.
Hillside First School teacher Nigel Leat was jailed indefinitely earlier this year after it was discovered the 52-year-old filmed himself sexually assaulting pupils as young as six in his Worle classroom.
This week North Somerset Council confirmed Chris Hood, who was headteacher at the school when Leat was carrying out the abuse, has been sacked following a disciplinary inquiry.
Police and the council insist Mr Hood has not been accused of any criminal involvement, but refused to reveal details of the investigation.
Earlier this year, Bristol Crown Court heard how a teaching assistant at Hillside - where Leat taught for 15 years - had raised concerns about the sex offender’s attitudes towards pupils on three separate occasions.
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The woman told school leaders she felt Leat’s relationships with pupils were ‘too close’ and left him ‘open to suspicion’.
Despite those concerns, Leat was allowed to remain at the school to carry out his secret abuse.
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Headteacher Mr Hood was suspended in January and parents received only a short letter this week, telling them he had ‘left the employment’ of the Church Road school.
It said acting headteacher David Amos will continue in the role while the governing body recruits a replacement.
The letter added that the serious case review being carried out independently into school procedures is expected to end shortly and that there will be a briefing for parents ahead of the publication of the results.
The governing body had prompted the disciplinary investigation into Mr Hood’s conduct, but parents are upset a number of governors publicly backed the headteacher when news of Leat’s alleged abuse first surfaced.
One said: “In the meeting we had with the governors and the police, the governors backed Mr Hood 100 per cent in his decisions. Why are they still in their posts?”
Leat’s sickening crimes were originally discovered last December and Mr Hood was suspended after governors raised concerns about management of the school.
Another parent added: “We know there are some new governors there, but there are also ones still there who backed Mr Hood’s decisions when concerns were raised about Leat.
“Why should Mr Hood be the scapegoat?
“The amount of information we have been given is not good enough. We have never been told Mr Hood was sacked, just that he left the school.
“We were also promised the results of the serious case review in the summer and then in the autumn and now we are being told the new year.”
Leat was eventually sentenced for 36 charges, including rape and sexual assault of a child, but police believe more children may have been affected by his crimes.
The Mercury approached Mr Hood this week, but he declined to comment.