Head of Wisbech special school sacked for failing to tell bosses of sexual harassment incident at his previous school
PUBLISHED: 10:01 20 April 2017
The head of a Wisbech special school has been sacked for failing to tell his employer he was under investigation for behaving in a sexually inappropriate way to colleagues where he previously worked.
A professional conduct tribunal – on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education- concluded Duncan Fielding was guilty of “unacceptable behaviour” but felt he was not a threat to children and should be allowed to continue working as a teacher.
The hearing, at Bury St Edmunds, felt that public humiliation would be punishment enough and that “there is strong public interest in retaining the teacher in the profession”.
But shortly after the findings were revealed, the Cambian School in Wisbech, decided to dismiss Mr Fielding.
A spokesman said: “These matters were not disclosed during Mr Fielding’s recruitment process, or through his required DBS check.
“Had they been he certainly would not have been employed. On understanding these details he was summarily dismissed, a decision which was appealed and was upheld.”
Mr Fielding was head of the Wisbech school from May 2016 till March 2017 when he was dismissed.
Cambian School supports young people with social, emotional and behavioural problems.
The hearing related to his time as vice principal of Ambergate College in Grantham, for students with moderate learning difficulties, autism and behavioural problems.
The panel heard that the married man, who told how he was suffering stress at the time, sent a photograph of his member to a junior staff member, sent inappropriate messages via social media to three others and asked one of them to send him photographs of her breasts.
Other allegations, including groping at an office Christmas party, were not proved, due to insufficient evidence.
“There is a strong public interest consideration in conveying the message that this is unacceptable behaviour for a professional such as Mr Fielding, particularly given his senior position in the school,” Alan Meyrick, panel decision maker, said.
“However the panel also considers that in this case there is a strong public interest in retaining the teacher in the profession.
“This is because no doubt has been cast upon his abilities as an educator and in fact, all witnesses who gave oral evidence, attested to his excellent skills when working with children with outstanding abilities as a teacher.
“It therefore appears that Mr Fielding has made, and still is able to make, a valuable contribution to the profession.
“The misconduct in this case had no impact upon children, or the propensity to do so, and therefore Mr Fielding poses no risk to pupils.”
The panel said publication of the findings was sufficient to send an appropriate message to Mr Fielding as to the standards of behaviour that are not acceptable.
“The panel also considers that given Mr Fielding’s genuine insight and remorse and the changes that he has already made to his behaviour at his new school, the imposition of a prohibition order (by the Secretary of State) would serve no further purpose,” Mr Meyrick said.
Mr Fielding was head teacher at the school in Wisbech in January this year when an Ofsted inspection praised him as a head teacher and said both he and his deputy were “strong leaders” with a “shared ambition for pupils to achieve well both academically and socially.”
The school has 19 pupils aged nine to 17.
The Ofsted report said that pupils at The School, in Somers Road, are placed by local authorities from across the country and most have a statement of special educational needs or health education and care plans. Some live in a children’s home.