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relationship between head teacher and criminal offender raises safeguarding concerns

16 March 2018

Is a head teacher obliged to notify her employer of an existing personal, but non sexual, relationship with an individual who had recently been convicted of making indecent images of children? 

The Supreme Court in Reilly v Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council concluded the answer to this question was yes.

Reilly, the head teacher of a primary school accepted that she was under a contractual duty to assist the governing body in respect of its safeguarding responsibilities, however, she argued there was insufficient evidence to suggest that her particular relationship with the individual was enough of a safeguarding concern that it should have been raised with governors. The Supreme Court decided otherwise and dismissed her appeal.

This decision may be unsurprising given the fact that the partner’s conviction was for a child related offence. The very basis of his sentence was that he represented a danger to children and it would therefore follow that his relationship with a head teacher would in turn pose a potential threat to the pupils. This case strengthens the employers hand when dealing with safeguarding concerns posed by associates of their employees.

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