School job for sex offender puts pressure on Kelly

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Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Education, has been accused of a "serious lapse of judgement" after a teacher placed on the sex offenders register was cleared to work in schools.

The Department for Education and Skills said yesterday it was reviewing its child protection policy after the teacher was given a job teaching physical education at The Hewett School in Norwich.

The member of staff was later suspended after a check by the Criminal Records Bureau showed the man had been placed on the national register of sex offenders, even though he did not appear on "List 99", the list of people barred from working with children.

The DfES said it could not comment on individual cases. However, it is understood that Ms Kelly decided not to place the man on List 99 as he had not been charged or convicted and the evidence against him was thought to be inconclusive.

But David Willetts, the shadow Education Secretary, said: "It is extraordinary that Ruth Kelly should have approved a registered sex offender becoming a PE teacher. It is a serious lapse of judgement and raises wider questions about the role of the Secretary of State in individual cases like this.

"The Government also needs urgently to look at how someone can be on the sex offenders register and yet not be on its own List 99, barring people from working with children. This needs to be tackled to restore confidence in the integrity of teaching appointments."

Lisa Christensen, of Norfolk social services, said: "This case highlights a serious policy contradiction which we are keen that the DfES addresses as a matter of urgency - namely, that it is possible for a teacher to have their name on the sex offender register, but not on List 99 - which is ... routinely checked. We have written to the DfES, and been informed they are reviewing these matters currently."

A spokesman for Norfolk Police said: "When police became aware this person had been offered a job at a school, they contacted us ... we took immediate action ... and the school suspended the person concerned pending a full investigation."