Kelly’s decision sparks concern

A director of children’s services has urged the government to review a rule allowing registered sex offenders to work with children.

Lisa Christensen, director of children’s services at Norfolk Council, spoke out after it emerged that education secretary Ruth Kelly approved a sex offender to work as a PE teacher.

The teacher was placed on the register after visiting child pornography websites, although his case did not go to court.

Norfolk Council says the safeguarding children unit at the Department for Education and Skills decided not to bar the teacher.

 “The secretary of state had determined that this teacher was suitable to work with children and young people…” said the governors and headteacher at Hewett school in Norwich, in a joint statement.

The teacher applied for a post at the school and was appointed last year but suspended following police concern and is no longer employed there.

A Dfes spokesperson said the government is to review the case to see whether it raises any policy issues.

“We are already reforming and tightening the system by developing a new vetting and barring scheme with the Home Office and police. This will provide better protections for children and vulnerable adults and improve safeguards,” he added.

In their statement the head and governors at the Hewett school said: “We firmly believe that the level of scrutiny applied by the Dfes should be sufficiently robust to reassure local police, education authorities, schools and parents about the suitability of candidates to work safely with children and young people.

“This is clearly an issue that the Dfes and Home Office need to address as a matter of urgency so that we can be confident that this is so.”

Kelly’s decision means the teacher is not on the Dfes’s list 99, that bars people from working with children.


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