THE CURRENT headteacher of a Slough school where a former leader twice allowed a paedophile on-site has spoken out about the “truly shocking”, “awful” and “despicable” actions of his predecessor.

Incumbent Pete Rowe also moved to reassure parents of their children’s safety after the Observer revealed former headteacher Alice Wetherell knowingly brought the convicted child sex offender to Ryvers School in August 2018 in order to help her with a couple of tasks.

The paedophile also dropped her off at the primary school on at least one occasion but Ms Wetherell did not inform the school’s governors of the man’s convictions.

READ THE FULL STORY: Former headteacher twice let paedophile on site of primary school

It was only in November 2018 that school governors were made aware of her actions and she was consequently suspended before being dismissed in April 2019.

But Miss Wetherell will be allowed to carry on teaching after a teacher misconduct panel ruled against banning her from classrooms following a hearing last month.

Now current headteacher Pete Rowe has responded following the Observer’s revelations.

In a letter to parents of the 750-student school, he said:

  • The incidents were a “truly shocking experience” for the school
  • He ‘struggled to conceive how anyone could do such a thing’
  • Governors took ‘swift and decisive action’ after being alerted to the incidents
  • He was ‘surprised’ Ms Wetherell was not banned from teaching
  • The school could not tell parents about Ms Wetherell’s actions before the Observer revealed them as doing this could have ‘prejudiced’ the outcome
  • The school has ‘gone over its systems and structures’ to see if it can ‘learn from this awful experience’.
  • The entrances to the school are key-coded and locked in a ‘timely fashion’
  • The school is ‘very different’ from when he first took over
  • The children are ‘safe, secure and happy’

Read the letter at the bottom of the page.

What happened?

Alice Wetherell was deputy headteacher at Ryvers Primary School in Slough, when she twice allowed a man with nine counts of sexual offences against a child onto the school site.

Explaining why she brought the man on-site the first time, she claimed she wanted some informal advice on health and safety matters and that he was trained in this area.

During this visit, which was during summertime, he was on site for four hours and according to Ms Wetherell, she removed anything ‘pupil-related’ from display boards.

The second visit occurred when the school’s site manager was ‘overwhelmed’ and so could not help move new furniture inside, meaning Ms Wetherell asked the sex offender to help her do this task instead.

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Evidence from the teacher misconduct panel indicated that Miss Wetherell did not tell school governors or the headteacher about the man’s convictions and “appeared proud of his achievements.”

The panel was forced to consider whether it should request banning Miss Wetherell from teaching and decided against this course of action.

A statement from the panel read: “The panel was of the view that [...] no prohibition order would be both a proportionate and an appropriate response.

“This was not, in any manner, to be seen as an endorsement of Miss Wetherell's actions, which were inherently serious.

“However, these actions were also created by displays of poor judgement by Miss Wetherell in circumstances that were, to some extent, highly stressful and unusual.

“It was not the case that Miss Wetherell had deliberately created a safeguarding risk but, rather, that was a consequential result of her poor judgement.

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“It did not consider that Miss Wetherell presented an ongoing risk to the public.”

The Observer has contacted Ryvers for comment.

Headteacher Pete Rowe’s letter to parents

“I am sure most of you will have become aware of a truly shocking experience the school went through over three years ago, before my time, which due to legal reasons has only now come into the public domain.

“As with all such stories, the media focus on the sensational aspects ignoring other important information, but in this case what happened was utterly unacceptable by any measure.

“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.

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“Immediately Governors were made aware of the events, they took swift and decisive action: initially suspension and then dismissal.

“You all know that I have worked in senior leadership in a number of other schools and I can say, hand on heart, I have never seen Governors work more quickly and correctly to address a safeguarding issue.

“Frankly, their forthright and decisive actions were a factor in my decision to join the school –safeguarding children must be - and is - number one for us all.

“When a teacher commits an unprofessional action of such a despicable nature, the next legal step, as well as dismissal, is to refer them to the Teacher Regulation Agency (TRA).

“This is a government-run body over which a school has no influence whatsoever. In their own timescale, in this case, a painfully long three years, they will consider a case and decide an appropriate sanction.

“I was very surprised that a prohibition order (not being allowed to be employed in schools) was not issued in this case but this is not something I or the school have the power to change.

“That said, whilst the case was pending we did ensure the individual was known to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) so any attempt to engage with an educational institution would have that institution alerted to the case.

“Following the TRA’s decision this is still the case and I find it inconceivable that any school would wish to employ any such individual once made aware of their past.

READ MORE: The criminals locked up or let go at Reading Crown Court last week

“As the TRA case has a legal status and school representatives were to be called as witnesses we could not share information publicly as this might have prejudiced the outcome and even stopped the case from proceeding.

“Now the case has ended and a judgement has been made we can move forward. Although the case was heard in September the outcome was only published last week.”

“The events occurred three years ago under different school leadership and governance.

“Since then, we have had two visits from Ofsted both of which have commended our effective safeguarding practices and we have, of course, gone over our systems and structures to see if we could learn anything from this awful experience.

“I’m sure you will now understand why our safeguarding rules might seem stricter than in some other schools and why I ensure there are always so many adults supervising pupils and entrances to the school, all of which are key coded and locked in a timely fashion.

“I in no way want to minimise the events of the past but it is worth noting that these events are, in reality, what brought me to the school.

“Governors, again acting with commendable speed and rigour, asked me as a highly experienced headteacher, to take short term charge of the school whilst it was in a vulnerable position.

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“The story following we all know; I fell in love with the school, its pupils and yes, you and the wider family of Ryvers and committed to stay and build the school to where it is today.

“We are a very different school from the one I first visited then; there is good reason we are more popular (this week’s census shows more pupils here than last year), have a greater presence and esteem in the local community and most importantly excellence in both academic outcomes and pastoral care.

“All our children are safe, secure and happy and you as parents tell us you feel confident and capable of sharing any concerns with us however big or small.

“As always, I or another member of the Senior Leadership Team will be on the gate morning and afternoon for a chat if needed.”