Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Education, was under mounting pressure last night after the headteacher at the centre of the sex offender furore called for her to be moved from her job and it was revealed that a second offender had been allowed to work in schools.
Tom Samain, headteacher of The Hewett school in Norwich, said that unless Ms Kelly and her ministerial team raised their performance they should be moved out of the Department for Education and Skills. "I certainly feel that unless the whole ministerial team there puts on an exceptional performance over the next couple of weeks the public is going to demand a reshuffle," Mr Samain told his local newspaper, The Norwich Evening News. "I am part of the public."
Mr Samain hired Paul Reeve in December to work as a PE teacher at his school although he was aware that Mr Reeve was on the sex offenders register and had accepted a caution for accessing child pornography.
The headteacher maintains that he was misled into believing that the police were happy for Mr Reeve to work with children because the DfES had cleared him to work in schools. A letter sent by the DfES described Mr Reeve as trustworthy and said he would be a "loss to the teaching profession". This testimony enabled Mr Reeve to work at the school. He lost his job after eight days when Norfolk Police contacted the school to air their concerns.
Yesterday it was revealed that a second man on the register had been allowed repeatedly to find work in schools. In 1980, William Gibson, now 59, was convicted for indecent assault on a child but has since worked at two schools in South Tyneside and one in neighbouring Co Durham. Like Mr Reeve, Mr Gibson was not on the DfES's List 99, which contains the names of people banned for life from working in schools.
In 2003, Mr Gibson taught maths for three months at St Joseph's RC Comprehensive School in Hebburn until his history was uncovered. Despite being revealed as a convicted sex offender he was given work in October 2004 at another school in the borough, Hebburn Comprehensive. He lasted just one day before his past was discovered. Less than six months later, the former financial adviser found work at a school in Co Durham, where he worked for a day before being thrown out.
Margaret Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said the situation was now reaching "crisis point".
The Prime Minister's official spokesman has stressed that Ms Kelly's job was safe. Yesterday the Prime Minister also gave his support to Kim Howells, the former education minister who admitted having allowed Mr Reeve to continue to work in schools.Reuse content