Ex-head who took expenses holiday struck off

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A former head teacher who took a Caribbean holiday on expenses was struck off the teaching register for five years today.

Susan Duncan was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct after claiming more than £3,000 for a trip to Jamaica while employed at The Meadows School in Oldbury, West Midlands.

The General Teaching Council (GTC) also found her guilty of making a false claim of £306 for a swimming-with-dolphins excursion during a personal holiday to Antigua.

Ms Duncan claimed she and another teacher at the school, Rita Simcox, described in the GTC hearing as her partner, went to Jamaica in April 2006 to carry out a risk assessment for a future school trip to the island.

The former head, who was not at the disciplinary hearing in Birmingham, said the Antigua excursion in October 2004 was also for risk assessment purposes.

Ralph Ullmann, chairman of the panel, said: "This was not an isolated incident. We believe it was conscious and deliberate wrongdoing.

"Dishonesty is a serious matter and we have decided prohibition is necessary.

"Ms Duncan had occupied a position of responsibility.

"As a head teacher, she had a duty to set standards of integrity.

"We find that she failed to do so.

"Ms Duncan has taken advantage of a wide authority granted to her in financial matters and a wide trust placed in her by the governing body, the LEA, and the school.

"She has abused the authority she had."

The GTC panel also found Ms Duncan guilty of unacceptable professional conduct for allowing four members of Ms Simcox's family to accompany pupils on a trip to Jamaica in May 2006, without informing the school governors.

Ms Duncan, who has now retired from teaching, was cleared of making false expenses claims for shopping, including scuba-diving equipment, between November 2004 and June 2006.

Rita Simcox, also known as Margaret Simcox, was found not guilty of unacceptable professional conduct after being accused of allowing her family to attend the school trip to Jamaica.

Mr Ullmann said it was not appropriate for her family to be on the trip, but stressed that Ms Duncan was the "moving force" behind it and the matter was her decision.

Ms Simcox was also cleared of making false expenses claims.

Speaking about Ms Duncan's career, her solicitor, Ian Poole, said: "She clearly had a long and distinguished career and it is a great pity her career has ended on a sour note."