Report Reveals Safety Failings At School
Lessons must be learned following the publication of a serious case review which found that a ‘lamentable failure’ of school management allowed Bristol teacher Nigel Leat to film himself abusing young girls, a child abuse specialist at Irwin Mitchell has urged.
Nigel Leat was jailed last year for abusing children as young as six at Hillside First School in Weston-super-Mare, with police finding more than 30,000 indecent photographs on memory sticks in his possession.
A serious case review commissioned by the North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board following the conviction identified that a report from Hillside, whilst Leat was working there, had already identified at least 30 incidents of inappropriate or unprofessional conduct.
School staff were said to have longstanding concerns about Leat and the report concluded that ‘much of the behaviour exhibited by the teacher was typical of grooming activities pursued by adults intent on sexually abusing children’.
The review concluded that the ‘failure of school managers to take action in response to the concerns raised was compounded by the failure of anyone in the school to recognise that the teacher’s behaviour might have constituted grooming for sexual abuse’.
Luke Daniels, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell who specialises in acting for victims who have suffered long-term physical and psychological trauma as a result of child abuse, said the conclusions must be acted upon.
He said: “The most significant finding here is that there was a clear history of concerns about Leat and yet those above him did not take the proper safeguarding action to ensure that the children under his care were protected.
“This raises a very serious question here about the quality of safeguarding training provided to school staff. There was a catalogue of incidents which should have alerted those monitoring Leat to the risks he presented, yet no action was taken.
“Hopefully the publication of this review will ensure lessons are learnt and that going forward we can ensure that best practice is followed where there are child protection concerns like this so that the same mistakes are not repeated.”
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