Head quits after second 'touching' allegation: Teacher reinstated after suspension could sue after new claim by parent

A HEADTEACHER who was suspended and reinstated after sitting a five-year-old girl on his knee has resigned after fresh allegations were made about him.

Richard Connor, headteacher of Alderley Edge Primary School in Cheshire, successfully appealed against his governors' decision to dismiss him.

He returned to school last week after a six-month suspension but on his first day back a parent made a fresh allegation that he had touched a child in an inappropriate manner.

Last night the local authority, Cheshire County Council, said that their inquiry into Mr Connor's conduct would not be continuing after his decision to resign.

A spokeswoman for the authority said that he would not return to his job, and that the school's governors would begin the process of appointing another headteacher. She added: 'It is in everyone's interests that the school should now return to normal as quickly as possible.'

The case was unusual because in addition to being given a final warning before being allowed to return, Mr Connor was instructed not to touch any child and not to teach any class until a school policy on 'appropriate touching' had been drawn up. He was also told that he must not take any groups of pupils for lessons outside the classroom or conduct assemblies on his own.

The dispute began six months ago when Mr Connor, who had been at the school for 11 years, comforted a child who became upset in assembly by putting her on his knee.

The school's governors suspended him, and told parents in a letter that he had 'failed to appreciate and acknowledge the perception which pupils had of these actions and contacts'. As a result, they said, they no longer had trust or confidence in him. However, an appeal panel reinstated him, adding a list of conditions to its decision. The panel, which was made up of governors from other schools not involved in the recommendation to dismiss Mr Connor, agreed that he had acted inappropriately, but decided it still had confidence in his abilities as a headteacher.

The day after Mr Connor returned to school last Monday, a parent made fresh allegations against him, which he strongly denied. His solicitor said he was considering legal action for defamation. Since then he has been on sick leave, suffering from stress.

Pressure for him to resign increased this week when staff at the school wrote to the local authority saying that they had no confidence in him and that he should go. At the same time, parents who supported Mr Connor set up a petition to have him reinstated. They said he had been 'hounded out by political correctness' and that the new allegation had only increased sympathy for him.

The row has heightened the fears of teachers' organisations, which say that under the Children Act, allegations made by pupils against school staff can be blown out of proportion. In more than one case, such allegations have later proved to be false.

Last night Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, Mr Connor's union, said the case was 'very alarming'.

'The police have studied all the evidence and they have neither prosecuted a case against him or cautioned him, and yet he has been forced to resign. If the allegations had been provable, presumably a case would have been brought forward,' he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open