12:09PM, Friday 15 October 2021
A former headteacher who allowed a convicted paedophile to visit her school in Langley twice during the summer holidays has been spared a ban from teaching.
Alice Wetherell faced a hearing from the Teaching Regulation Agency’s professional conduct panel following allegations made against her while she was employed at Ryvers School, Trelawney Avenue.
Ms Wetherell was accused of letting a child sex offender who she knew onto the school site in August 2018 to carry out an informal health and safety briefing.
He also helped Ms Wetherell move furniture into her new office on a second visit to the school later in the same month.
The man, who’s name has been redacted in the public report, was jailed for six years in October 2014 for nine sexual offences against a child.
The panel heard that the Ryvers deputy headteacher wanted some informal advice on health and safety matters and the convicted sex offender was trained in that area.
During a hearing on September 13, she told the panel that prior to his visit, she had searched the school to ensure no pictures of pupils were on display but accepted she could not be 100 per cent certain everything had been removed.
She added she thought the convicted child sex offender stayed on the site for one hour but accepted the school’s sign-in records revealed this was closer to four.
The panel found that Miss Wetherell had demonstrated poor professional judgement to allow the paedophile on site.
The report said Miss Wetherell, who took over as the school’s headteacher in September 2018 but was dismissed for gross misconduct in April 2019, had relied on permission granted by the sex offender’s probation officer to carry out the health and safety advice session rather than informing the school of the visit.
The panel also found she had displayed poor professional judgement by allowing the convicted criminal to pick her, and her colleagues, up from the vicinity of the school on two separate occasions.
Allegations Miss Wetherall failed to disclose her association with a convicted sex offender were not proven with the teacher claiming in evidence that she had spoken to two undisclosed colleagues.
Witnesses told the professional conduct panel that Miss Wetherell was known for having a ‘deep moral code’ and always did things ‘by the book.
The panel said that Miss Wetherell’s actions were ‘unforgiveable and inexcusable’ and amounted to unacceptable professional conduct while also bringing the teaching profession into disrepute.
But its report added that there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ her actions were out of context in a ‘lengthy and successful’ teaching career.
It decided not to recommend a ban from teaching.
Executive headteacher Pete Rowe, who joined Ryvers after the incident occurred, said in a letter to parents he was ‘very surprised’ Miss Wetherell had not been banned from the profession but said this decision was out of the school’s hands.
He added: “A senior member of staff knowingly allowed a convicted sex offender onto the school site albeit when children were not present. I’m sure, like you, I am struggling to conceive how anyone could ever do such a thing but it happened.
“This was an individual’s appalling decision shared with no one and obviously against every rule and regulation Ryvers and every other school stands by.”
There will be displays at Windsor Racecourse and Legoland, local fireworks in Burnham and Twyford and smaller displays at schools in the Royal Borough.