Former Thornhill head cleared of improper conduct

A FORMER Dewsbury head teacher has been cleared of allegations of improper conduct.
Steve Valentine, head at Thornhill High School for almost 10 years, was accused of unfairly promoting his personal assistant Adele Goodall and boosting her pay.
It was said he created the job of college manager and appointed Mrs Goodall even though she lacked the necessary qualifications and experience.
The job was not advertised and Mrs Goodall was not interviewed.
It was also alleged that Mr Valentine later gave Mrs Goodall a pay rise and allowed her to take every Thursday off to go to college.
Mr Valentine was said to have discriminated in favour of Ms Goodall and been “unsupportive” of newlyqualified teachers over pay and absence policy.
Mr Valentine, who was at the school – now called the Community Science College – until March 2007, appeared before a General Teaching Council inquiry last week, facing eight allegations over unacceptable professional misconduct.
He was cleared of all the allegations relating to Mrs Goodall.
However Mr Valentine was found to have had acted illegally by asking staff to complete afternoon registers in the morning, though his actions did not amount to unacceptable professional conduct.
The tribunal accepted that Mr Valentine genuinely believed eregistration would be in place at the start of the term in September 2005.
The charges arose after an inquiry into management practices at the school in autumn 2006, sparked by a vote of no confidence from staff.
Mr Valentine was suspended by Kirklees Council and resigned in March 2007.
Among those who gave evidence at the tribunal was current head teacher David Powell.
In its findings the tribunal committee found that Mr Valentine created the new college manager post.
It was said that he was advised by education chiefs that the job should be advertised at least internally.
Mr Valentine claimed he was told he didn’t have to advertise because the right candidate was available. A letter from the local authority warned it would be “unwise” to go ahead without advertising.
In the absence of any set procedure, the committee found in Mr Valentine’s favour.
The hearing was told of other claims about Mr Valentine’s management style.
He offered Sheena Gabbi the post of humanities faculty manager but gave her just five minutes to decide.
When Fiona Simmons went for the job as assistant personnel officer Mr Valentine reportedly said she had given a “bad interview”. She was then reinterviewed and given the job.
The committee found that it could not be sure the required procedures were not followed and there was insufficient evidence to prove Mr Valentine was at fault.
The tribunal also heard that the school paid for Mrs Goodall to take a HNC course in business and personnel from September 2004 to June 2006 followed by a HND, both at Wakefield College.
Mrs Goodall was Mr Valentine’s PA at the time and it was considered “inappropriate” for her job. The committee again found insufficient evidence to support the charge.
It was also alleged that Mr Valentine completed a finance module on the course for Mrs Goodall. Mr Valentine strongly denied “cheating.”
It was alleged Mr Valentine tried to cover up Mrs Goodall’s “inadequacies” as college manager by making certain changes and that David Hoare, a member of the school’s senior management team, was made to move offices because Mrs Goodall did not want to be near him.
It was said other staff were unable to approach Mr Valentine because of his “inappropriate involvement” with Mrs Goodall and that he breached confidentiality by discussing their personal affairs with her.
Mrs Goodall was also given five ink cartridges for home. Mr Valentine said this was so she could print work for school in the evenings.
The General Teaching Council said the work could have been given to an administrative assistant during the day.
At the time of his resignation Mr Valentine said he intended to take a break before returning to teaching.
In a statement he said: “I shall leave with many happy memories and a knowledge that the school is a stronger place than when I arrived. I would like to thank all those who have given so much support to the school, and wish it every success in the future.”
After the hearing a Kirklees Council spokesman said: “Following the vote of no confidence taken by staff in June 2006 and his precautionary suspension from duties, Mr Valentine resigned from his position with effect from March 31 2007.
“The matter deliberated upon by the General Teaching Council related to issues of conduct from Mr Valentine’s time as head teacher.
“The General Teaching Council have reached their own conclusions through their own processes.
“Kirklees Council recognises the valuable contribution that the Community Science College at Thornhill is making to the educational attainment of pupils in Kirklees.”

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