Life ban for big-spending teacher
A former top headteacher has been banned for life from the classroom for spending thousands of pounds of public money on personal expenses such as a 50th birthday party, taxis and mobile phone bills.
Joanna Shuter, who was once hailed as one of the best heads in the country, was found guilty of "unacceptable professional conduct" while working at Quintin Kynaston School in north London.
In a judgment published today, a professional conduct panel recommended that Ms Shuter be handed a prohibition order banning her from teaching indefinitely. It also said she should not be allowed to apply for order to be lifted at a later date.
The recommendation was approved by a senior Department for Education official on behalf on the Education Secretary.
In its decision, the panel said that while Ms Shuter - who was named Headteacher of the Year in 2007 and awarded a CBE - had been a "force for good" in many respects, she had made numerous expenses claims over a significant period of time for personal gain and her conduct should be treated with the "utmost seriousness".
The judgment found that Ms Shuter used £6,292.90 of school funds to pay for her 50th birthday party in 2011, claimed £5,855.67 for taxis that were not related to school business and bought furniture worth around £1,500 which was delivered to her home address.
It also found that she charged the school £8,269 for a hotel stay for the senior leadership team and spent money on mobile phones including contracts for herself, her son and her daughter.
Ms Shuter admitted the allegations, the judgment says.
She also admitted taking on paid work for speaking at conferences and consultancy during term time and instructing her personal assistant to carry out non-school related tasks such as organising her consultancy and public speaking engagements, booking flights for her family and arranging the rental of her holiday home.
In its recommendation, the panel said: "In light of the panel's findings against Ms Shuter, which involved making numerous and extensive expenses claims in respect of public money, over a significant period of time for personal gain, there is a strong public interest consideration in maintaining public confidence in the profession.
"This is particularly so in Ms Shuter's case, in light of her high national profile as an influential figure in the education world and public recognition as Headteacher of the Y ear and her receipt of a CBE. This high profile increases the risk of public confidence in the profession being undermined.
"The Panel is also of the view that in the climate of recent years, the public interest in maintaining public confidence in the management of public finances, including ensuring that expenses claims against public funds are appropriate, is particularly strong.
"Accordingly, the Panel considers that public confidence in the profession could be seriously weakened if conduct such as that found against Ms Shuter were not treated with the utmost seriousness when regulating the conduct of the profession."
It added that while Ms Shuter had admitted her wrongdoing she had also showed "a lack of insight into the severity and impact of her behaviours".
The document says that in respect of the birthday party, Ms Shuter set up separate accounting for them but failed to reimburse the school until she repaid £5,906.98 in April 2012 - more than a year after receiving an invoice for it.
Ms Shuter resigned from Quintin Kynaston, an academy school, in May last year.
Andrew Christie, executive director of children's services at Westminster City Council, said: "We referred this case to the National College for Teaching and Leadership, as the highest professional body, for an independent review and to determine if further action could or should be taken.
"We expect very high standards from teachers and headteachers in Westminster. We also believe we have a duty to help maintain these standards across the teaching profession as a whole, and will always do what we can to uphold these standards."