Simon Barber Head Teacher Personal Statement

THE head of a school where a teacher has been banned from the profession from life has issued a statement outlining the events leading up to his sacking.

Heathfield Community School headteacher Peter Hoare carried out an investigation into allegations made against Simon Pickhaver before the governors agreed to sack him.

Mr Hoare has this week written a letter to parents and guardians.

A disciplinary hearing this month decided to end Pickhaver's career after hearing he e-mailed pupils and even invited them round to his house.

Pickhaver, who had previously been suspended at another school for an "intimate" relationship with a 15-year-old student, told one girl at Heathfield that he loved her.

This is the full text of Mr Hoare's letter.

"You are no doubt aware of the recent news coverage relating to a former employee Mr Simon Pickhaver.

"Whilst I cannot comment on the actions of his previous employers in other counties, nor would it be appropriate for me to comment on my predecessors’ actions at Heathfield, I can provide clarity and accuracy about the events leading to Mr Simon Pickhaver's dismissal.

"I was appointed to the post of Headteacher in January 2013.

"During the first week of the summer holidays in July 2016, I was made aware of a very serious allegation against Mr Simon Pickhaver.

"The evidence presented to me was of grave concern.

"After taking advice from Somerset Services for Education HR, I immediately suspended Mr Simon Pickhaver without prejudice in mid-August pending a very thorough and confidential investigation.

"During this period, Mr Simon Pickhaver was banned from school premises and advised against communication with members of the school community without my prior consent.

"This investigation was carried out with support from the Local Authority Designated Officer (who is responsible for Safeguarding), Local Authority Human Resources, Police, Social Services and in consultation with Bath & Wells Diocese.

"I carried out a number of interviews and witness statements were taken.

"On conclusion of my investigation the governors convened a dismissal panel to consider my report findings and recommendations.

"This panel met in January 2017. Mr Simon Pickhaver was invited to attend but declined.

"At this meeting, the governors considered my report and recommendations and unanimously agreed that Mr Simon Pickhaver be dismissed with immediate effect.

"The school understands the concerns that the recent NCTL hearing will have raised but can reassure parents and pupils that we have all the relevant safeguarding policies and procedures in place including DBS checks and Safer Recruiting.

"In this case the school acted quickly and appropriately as soon as allegations were made, suspending the member of staff before ultimately terminating their employment.

"The school undertakes all the relevant safeguarding and recruitment checks with employing staff. That was the case in 2002, as it is now.

"If there is any indication that someone is unfit to work with children or has previously had a bar from teaching which has expired or has been lifted, this would be taken into account.

"However, if a bar from teaching has expired or been lifted, this would not be disclosed to the school in this process.

"As a Head and as a parent, I am concerned that sensitive details of Mr Simon Pickhaver's behaviour were reported in such a way as to cause further distress to those pupils and parents affected by it.

"We accept that this is an important item of news, but when children are involved some degree of sensitivity in reporting must be exercised.

"Heathfield School will continue to place safeguarding at the heart of all it does."

MEET the new principal at a York secondary academy.

Simon Barber will take over from Brian Crosby at the helm of Manor CE Academy in the west of York in September.

Mr Crosby is moving to a senior position leading the Hope Learning Trust, York, of which Manor is part, and will retain strategic oversight at Manor and other secondary schools that join the trust.

Mr Barber is currently head teacher of Holy Trinity in Barnsley, a through school for children aged three to 16 and the only Catholic and Church of England school of its kind in the country.

After qualifying in 1991, Mr Barber became a primary school teacher, with music as his main subject. He became head teacher of Silkstone Primary in Barnsley in 2005 which was subsequently rated outstanding by school inspectors Ofsted. Mr Barber became a National Leader of Education and his school a National Support School, supporting other schools locally.

Simon Barber (left) and Brian Crosby

The brand new Holy Trinity was proposed in 2010, combining a secondary and two primaries. He said: “I went from being a primary school head to a secondary school head in September of the same year. The idea was quite scary at first.

“Teachers usually stay in one phase or another and crossover is not common and even less common for head teachers. However, the opportunity presented itself and it made me ask ‘what is the difference between teaching 5-6 year olds and 15-16-year-olds’?

"At its core, great teaching is about strong relationships, thorough planning and assessment and great feedback for learning. Some things between the phases are different in terms of curriculum organisation and ways of working with different ages of children, but there are more similarities than differences. I am passionate about teaching and learning and I really enjoy seeing children and young people with a strong love of learning.”

Mr Barber oversaw the design and build of the new school and has led it ever since. He grew up in Stockton on Tees and he, his young son, and his father, are keen supporters of Middlesbrough football club. Away from work, he enjoys running and walking in the Lake District and spending time with his wife and family. A man of faith, Mr Barber is also a lay canon at Wakefield Cathedral. He is looking forward to his new challenge in York.

“I’m extremely excited about joining Manor and can’t wait to get started,” he said. “Leaving Holy Trinity will be a wrench as I’ve loved every minute of my time here, but staff have been very kind and have wished me well.”

Mr Crosby said: “I am thrilled at the exciting prospect of Simon, another National Leader of Education who really understands church schools, joining Manor and helping to make a difference in the lives of young people.”

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