The 20 specimen charges heard by Newcastle upon Tyne Crown Court against Jason Dabbs, 21, referred to only a small proportion of complaints of sex abuse involving 60 children at two schools between September 1991 and July last year.
Newcastle City Council is to hold an inquiry into the case. Tony Flynn, the education chairman, said: 'I am determined to find out exactly what happened.'
The judge, Mr Justice Waller, told Dabbs that he abused nursery school children, many aged only four, who were supposed to be in his care.
'You hurt and damaged them physically and caused them emotional suffering,' he said.
'What is more, you committed the acts consistently and repeatedly, knowing that it was wrong and that it hurt the children.' Statements from the children and their parents indicated they were still suffering. The judge said Dabbs should be given a substantial period in custody, and receive treatment and counselling.
Dabbs, of Hazelrigg, Newcastle, admitted nine charges of indecent assault when he appeared in court a fortnight ago, and asked for three more charges to be taken into consideration. The judge ordered that eight cases should remain on the file.
Before Dabbs was sentenced there were interruptions from the public gallery as John Milford QC spoke for the defence.
Mr Milford said that a psychiatric report on Dabbs, who had no previous convictions, offered explanations for his offences but did not excuse them. Dabbs was the product of a 'somewhat chaotic family background,' he said. There were shouts from the public gallery, particularly when he spoke of Dabbs being of previous good character and showing genuine remorse.
Later, the judge commended police officers involved in the case - notably Detective Chief Inspector John Renwick, Constable Julie Kinghorn and Detective Constable Peter Smith - for the sensitive way in which they interviewed the children.
Many parents are taking legal advice about suing Newcastle City Council over the attacks.
Doug Henderson, MP for Newcastle North, claimed that the authorities were slow to react to the allegations and accused the social services department of failing to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.
Many parents, he said, told him that the education and social service departments played the situation down.
The city council's inquiry, which is due to start in June, will examine how Dabbs was selected as a student by Newcastle College, his placement in two schools and how he was supervised by staff at the college and the schools.
'It will endeavour to reach conclusions on how the offences were committed and if they could have been prevented,' Mr Flynn said.
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