Headteacher banned for ignoring child neglect complaints

Alexander Bowles was headteacher at Great Hockham Primary School near Thetford. Photo: Google Street

Alexander Bowles was headteacher at Great Hockham Primary School near Thetford. Photo: Google Streetview - Credit: Google Streetview

A headteacher has been banned from teaching indefinitely after he failed to protect two pupils suffering neglect.

Alexander Bowles was found guilty of "unacceptable professional conduct" by a panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) in December.

He was headteacher at Great Hockham Primary School near Thetford when he failed to act following safeguarding concerns about two pupils between July 2016 and 2018.

Mr Bowles did not refer the children, who staff feared were suffering neglect, to authorities for more than two years.

He also failed to keep a safeguarding file on the pupils and did not share information about one of the children with the authorities after a referral was finally made in September 2018.

The panel said the children were showing "clear and repeated signs of neglect".

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"[Mr Bowles'] failure to act in relation to these two vulnerable children prevented them from receiving protection and support from external agencies for a period that could have been up to two years," the panel found.

"These failures occurred despite concerns having been highlighted at prior safeguarding reviews," they added.

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He admitted the allegations and agreed they were unacceptable professional conduct.

The panel said it had recommended that Mr Bowles should be banned from teaching because of "serious and repeated failures over a significant period of time". That recommendation was followed by the Secretary of State.

In mitigation the panel heard that Mr Bowles had a good record previously in a long teaching career.

He was also well regarded by Norfolk teachers and was going through a difficult time in his personal life, the judgement said.

Mr Bowles can apply for the prohibition order to be lifted after five years.

A spokesman for Sapienta Education Trust, which runs Great Hockham Primary school, said: "We take all issues relating to safeguarding and child protection extremely seriously.

"During the first year that Great Hockham Primary School belonged to our trust, our routine and regular monitoring identified serious concerns about practices in the school.

"We took immediate and robust action to remedy these, involved the appropriate external agencies and conducted a detailed investigation that resulted in the dismissal of Mr Bowles and the subsequent TRA action."

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