Headteacher of top-rated specialist school banned from driving

PUBLISHED: 13:27 12 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 12 August 2019

Eaton Hall Specialist Academy in Eaton, near Norwich. Picture Google.

Eaton Hall Specialist Academy in Eaton, near Norwich. Picture Google.


A headteacher has been disqualified from driving despite arguing a ban could impact some of Norfolk’s most “challenging” school children.

Keith Bates, who runs the highly-rated Eaton Hall Specialist Academy, was caught using his mobile phone as a sat-nav while driving in Gorleston last year.

The 48-year-old, of Sprowston Road, Norwich, already had six points on his licence for speeding at the time of the offence.

While Bates previously pleaded guilty, he returned to Norwich Magistrates' Court on Monday, August 12, to argue exceptional hardship.

Giving evidence, Bates said: "Alongside running Eaton Hall, which in itself is a fair old task, the real impact of me losing my licence would be on the wider work we do.

"I am required, every couple of days, to attend meetings all over Norfolk in support of children who are experiencing challenges in school placements across the county."

Bates, who has been a headteacher for five years, said the school, at Pettus Road, Norwich, works with some of the "most challenging children in Norfolk".

It includes young people with social, emotional and mental health difficulties. The school was last year rated as "outstanding" by education watchdog Ofsted.

You may also want to watch:

Bates told magistrates that children had avoided permanent exclusion as a result of his work. He added that a "huge number" were also at risk of criminal exploitation.

Prosecutor Neal Carr said Bates was caught driving while using his mobile on Shrublands Way on September 27, 2018.

Bates said he was driving a company vehicle at the time and was on his way to support one of his pupils who was in a mainstream school.

However, he said he was not familiar with the school and was using his phone as a sat-nav for directions when he was stopped by police.

Bates said he could not use public transport or rely on someone else to drive him to do his job.

But he admitted he would not lose his position if he was disqualified.

"I would be able to run the school still," Bates said. "But my exceptional hardship would be about the wider impact with the children we work with."

Magistrates decided against granting exceptional hardship, and disqualified Bates from driving for six months.

He must also pay a total of £463 to the court.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Most Read

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press