August 2 2014 Latest news:
by Flora Drury
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The disgraced “superhead” who claimed thousands of pounds in expenses from her St John’s Wood school to fund her lifestyle - and a 50th birthday bash - has been permanently banned from teaching.
Former Quintin Kynaston headteacher Jo Shuter - who was given a CBE for her work in education - was banned after admitting a raft of allegations in front of a panel for The National College for Teaching and Leadership last month.
These included using school funds to pay for her family’s mobile phone bills, making her school PA organise her consultancy work and public speaking engagements, and claiming £1,500 worth of expenses for furniture - delivered to her home address.
The panel’s report notes Ms Shuter used school funds to pay £6,292.90 for her 50th birthday party in January 2011, for which she was invoiced for in March 2011, but did not pay it back until April 2012 - and then only paid £5,906.98.
Ms Shuter also claimed £5,855.67 for taxis between January 2011 and August 2012 which she did not use for school businesses, as well as claiming one £591.80 phone bill twice and said that she only made £30 worth of personal calls on a £748.25 phone bill, of which £571.62 was run up while on holiday in Thailand.
The report goes on to note Ms Shuter “tended to distance herself” from the responsibility for financial management, apparently claiming it was “minutiae” she did not have time to consider.
Just two people spoke in her defence from QK: a former deputy head, and a former student at the Marlborough Hill school. Three people from King Solomon High School, in Redbridge, the school she has been leading since September 2013, attended the hearing on her behalf.
The panel also felt she “showed a lack of insight into the severity and impact of her behaviours”.
It found Ms Shuter had bought the teaching profession into disrepute, and, despite her previous good character, did not believe she should be allowed to overturn the ban at a later date because of the seriousness of the case.
Michael Parker, division secretary of Westminster Teachers’ Association, pointed out the case highlighted problems around the apparent “lack of accountability” which academies and free schools have.
Unlike schools maintained by the local authority, or diocese, they are able to manage their own finances.
However, Mr Parker also came out in defence of Ms Schuter’s achievements as a headteacher.
“They are remarkable,” he said. “But it is indicative that if too much freedom is given to headteachers and they are not held sufficiently accountable, then there are risks.
“And this blatant exploitation of public money for personal benefit is a lesson in what happens when there is insufficient accountability.”
+ Andrew Christie, executive director of children’s services at Westminster 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.”