A SLOUGH headteacher who knowingly allowed a child-sex offender onto the site of her school will not be banned from teaching.

Alice Wetherell was deputy headteacher at Ryvers Primary School in Slough, when she allowed a man with nine counts of sexual offences against a child onto the school site.

A teaching panel agreed Ms Wetherell showed “poor professional judgement” in allowing the man on-site and that her actions were “not forgivable or excusable”.

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But the panel decided against banning her from teaching children again as the former headteacher was not considered to be an ongoing risk to the public.

At the hearing, it was revealed the convict was handed a six-year custodial sentence for his crimes and was placed on the sex offenders’ register for life but was released in October 2017.

In August 2018, just a month before Ms Wetherell became headteacher of the school, the sex offender entered the school premises twice.

The man was also allowed in the vicinity of the school during term-time as he dropped Ms Wetherell off at Ryvers in his car on at least one occasion.

She failed to disclose her knowledge of the man’s convictions to fellow leaders at the school and in November 2018 she was suspended after school governors were made aware of the man’s past.

Ms Wetherell was sacked from the school for gross misconduct in April 2019.

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Evidence from the teacher misconduct panel heard how Miss Wetherell wrote the school’s safeguarding policies whilst employed by Ryvers as she was the school’s safeguarding lead.

Explaining why she brought the man on-site the first time, she claimed she wanted some informal advice on health and safety matters and that he was trained in this area.

During this visit, he was on site for four hours and according to Ms Wetherell, she removed anything ‘pupil-related’ from display boards.

The second visit occurred when the school’s site manager was ‘overwhelmed’ and so could not help move new furniture inside, meaning Ms Wetherell asked the sex offender to help her do this task instead.

According to the former headteacher, the convict’s probation officers were aware of his visits and gave approval for him to attend the school.

But a panel found the convict only had his request to visit the school approved once.

The panel decided: “There was no credible reason, other than Miss Wetherell's own convenience, for [the sex offender] to be the person who provided the Health and Safety advice or assistance with the furniture.

“The panel considered Miss Wetherell to have displayed poor professional judgement in allowing him into the school on two separate occasions.”

Evidence from the hearing indicated that Miss Wetherell did not tell school governors or the headteacher about the man’s convictions and “appeared proud of his achievements.”

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But ‘suspicions were raised’ when she “suddenly began to avoid conversations about the convict and said to different people that [the convict] was working abroad but referenced different countries.”

It emerged that Miss Wetherell attended the trial of the convict and was forced away from school for “several weeks”.

According to her evidence, the former headteacher told an undisclosed colleague about the charges and they told her to tell staff she was on jury duty during the trial.

However, Miss Wetherell denied she actually did this.

Rumours spread during Miss Wetherell’s time at the school that the sex offender had spent time in prison, and the former headteacher described Ryvers as a very “gossipy” place.

A panel verdict found Miss Wetherell’s behaviour amounted to ‘serious misconduct’.

Their statement read: “The conduct of Miss Wetherell amounted to misconduct of a serious nature which fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession.

“In the panel's view, Miss Wetherell's actions were not forgivable or excusable.

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“The safeguarding risk that this created, in the panel's view, was so significant that it could only be seen as a serious failing, which amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.”

The panel was forced to consider whether it should request banning Miss Wetherell from teaching and decided against this course of action.

In coming to their decision, they considered:

  • The mistakes made by Miss Wetherell
  • The strong public interest in the protection of children
  • Retaining Miss Wetherell as a teacher as she is “able to make a valuable contribution to the profession”
  • A “large number of testimonials” which praised Miss Wetherell’s work ethic and her ethos to “put children first”
  • How she found becoming headteacher “incredibly stressful”, that she was ‘commuting to and from the USA in August 2018’ and that she “would have done things differently if she had the opportunity.”

A statement from the panel read: “The panel was of the view that [...] no prohibition order would be both a proportionate and an appropriate response.

“This was not, in any manner, to be seen as an endorsement of Miss Wetherell's actions, which were inherently serious.

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“However, these actions were also created by displays of poor judgement by Miss Wetherell in circumstances that were, to some extent, highly stressful and unusual.

“It was not the case that Miss Wetherell had deliberately created a safeguarding risk but, rather, that was a consequential result of her poor judgement.

“It did not consider that Miss Wetherell presented an ongoing risk to the public.”

The decision was published on September 21.