Former Long Melford headteacher given lifetime ban for severe negligence

Former Long Melford Primary School headteacher Paula Hagan.
Former Long Melford Primary School headteacher Paula Hagan.

A headteacher has been banned from teaching for life after failing to meet health and safety procedures which put pupils and staff at risk.

Paula Hagan was found guilty of breaching a string of health and safety policies during her time at Long Melford Church of England Primary School, where she taught from 2014 to 2015.

“The public has a high expectation of professional standards of all teachers”

Miss Hagan, 43, who admitted unacceptable professional conduct, was found to have forged documents to say weekly fire alarm tests had been carried out.

She also failed to ensure a risk assessment and personal evacuation plan was in place for people needing help getting out of the school building.

A teaching conduct panel heard that, as a result of her actions, pupils’ safety was put at risk.

The panel found that, by falsely stating in documents that fire drills had been carried out, it amounted to “serious dishonesty”.

However, they found she had shown “genuine insight and remorse” and said the ban could be reviewed.

She only admitted her dishonesty when questioned by a governor and claimed she had intended to carry out a fire drill before the meeting.

Representations submitted on behalf of Miss Hagan conceded that she had been under both professional and personal pressure and, although her misconduct posed safety risks, no one was hurt.

Jonathan Storey, mitigating for Miss Hagan, said the case involved “an isolated series of incidents in a long and successful career”.

“She has demonstrated genuine insight, reflected and is now a changed person,” he said.

Weighing up the findings, Dawn Dandy, from The National College of Teaching and Leadership, determined whether it was in the public interest to impose a ban.

“I have gone on to consider the extent to which a prohibition order would maintain public confidence in this profession,” said Mrs Dandy.

The severity of falsifying documents, misleading the school and the governing body was also taken into account.

Miss Hagan’s feelings of remorse towards her dishonesty were noted, together with her previously good character in the profession.

Mrs Dandy considered Miss Hagan’s “positive references which attested to her teaching and leadership abilities”.

Mrs Dandy, however, noted: “In this case, I have placed significant weight on the finding of dishonesty and that the panel says this behaviour was repeated on two occasions and placed pupils and staff at significant risk of harm.”

Mrs Dandy added: “I have had to consider that the public has a high expectation of professional standards of all teachers.

“And that failure to impose a prohibition order might be regarded by the public as a failure to uphold those high standards.”