Indefinite ban for former headteacher

A former primary school headteacher who created a job for his partner has been banned from teaching.

Wednesday, 17th May 2017, 2:20 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:15 pm

Gerry O’Brien, 59, who was head at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Preston, appeared before a disciplinary hearing more than two years after he left the Ribbleton school amid allegations of “financial irregularities.”

The National College for Teaching and Leadership panel was told he broke the rules by creating a post as a school business manager for his partner and also failued to disclose their relationship.

The hearing was told that Mr O’Brien was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct because he “failed to adequately disclose” the full extent of his professional/personal relationship with the business manager.

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He took over the headship in August 2012 and in January 2013 Brian Murray took up the newly created post of business manager.

The head was involved in the selection procedure without telling anyone that the pair had been living together for years, most recently in Walmer Bridge.

Mr Murray was suspended in October 2104 and Mr O’Brien left in 2015 but the hearing heard Mr O’Brien had authorised two extra payments, worth nearly £3,000, without providing the necessary paperwork to justify it.

He had claimed the school governors were aware but added that the fact that there were no references to the payments in the governors’ minutes was an oversight he regretted.

At the end of the three-day hearing the panel said Mr O’Brien’s conduct “fell significantly short of the standards expected for the profession”. However not all the allegations amounted to professional misconduct.

He was banned from teaching, but this could be reviewed after May 2019.

Catherine Monaghan, headteacher at St Joseph’s, said: “This hearing marks the end of a long process. As soon as irregularities came to light in January 2015 the school acted promptly.

“He resigned during the disciplinary process and the case was referred to the National College for Teaching and Leadership. We can now draw a line under this episode and continue with providing our pupils with the education that they deserve.”