Head banned from teaching over unauthorised term-time trip to Cuba

A headteacher who took a trip to Cuba without permission during term time has been banned from the profession.

Friday, 14th July 2017, 5:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:45 am
Ian McCann, head of Rosewood Primary School in Burnley

Ian McCann, head of Rosewood Primary School in Burnley, Lancashire, went on an eight-day visit to the Caribbean island in October 2015 to take part in a charity bike ride despite being refused the leave by governors.

After his request was denied on two occasions, the school leader handed in a note from his GP and took the time off, a misconduct panel found.

Mr McCann, 59, was handed a prohibition order and told he can apply to have it reviewed in three years.

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Rosewood Primary School in Burnley

The panel heard that in March 2015 Mr McCann submitted a written request for unpaid leave to go on a charity bike ride in Cuba, but it was denied. A second application was also refused.

In October that year, Mr McCann submitted a statement from his doctor which said he was not fit for work due to a "stress-related problem".

He then went on the Cuba trip and on his return was suspended from his job.

The panel heard that Mr McCann had told a teacher at the school that he had spent £2,000 as a deposit for the trip and he was "going to go, regardless of the consequences", adding he had not decided whether to take sick leave.

Rosewood Primary School in Burnley

In a statement, the former headteacher told the misconduct panel that he had been suffering from stress following the death of his father in 2014, and the challenging behaviour of some pupils at his school.

"The panel finds that it had always been the intention of Mr McCann to go on the cycle trip to Cuba during the autumn term of 2015 irrespective of the decisions of the governing body in March and April 2015 refusing his request for authorised leave of absence," the panel said.

It added: "The panel is satisfied that obtaining a doctor's note stating that he is unable to work due to sickness between 12 October and 2 November 2015 and his subsequent absence from work between 12 and 25 October 2015 was a deliberate course of conduct on his part to enable him to participate in the charity cycle ride in Cuba."

The panel found that Mr McCann had acted dishonestly and was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

"The findings of misconduct are very serious," it said. "The panel is particularly concerned that Mr McCann, as headteacher, had deliberately flouted the authority of the governing body and taken leave of absence to go to Cuba during term time which had not been authorised by the governing body.

"It is difficult to think of a worse example that he could have set to the staff and pupils at the school."

Mr McCann resigned from his post in February last year.

In a letter to the Lancashire Telegraph in April 2016, Mr McCann said: "The location and timing of the charity event were outside of my control but were poignant and personal to my grieving over the loss of my father to cancer."

He added: "I never meant the negative impact which ensued and I am truly sorry for this."