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Headteacher struck off after pocketing £10k from nursery run by pal out of school room

Headteacher Catherine Llyod-Jenkins let her close friend Michelle Howell run a nursery out of her school – she charged her pal no, or low, rent and they split the profits, making over £10k in one year

A headteacher who ran a nursery out of one of the school’s rooms with her friend and split the profits has been struck off. Catherine Lloyd-Jenkins let her close friend Michelle Howell run the Cywion Cile nursery from her school, Ysgol Ffwrnes, in Llanelli.

Not only that but she charged her friend no rent from 2015 to 2017, and/or “inappropriately low rent” of £500 a year from 2017-2019 for using the school’s “community room”, an Education Workforce Council Wales panel heard.

Then, the two split the profits and losses 50/50, and in 2017 alone they pocketed over £10,000 each, EWC legal advisor Delme Griffiths said.

Jenkins tried to keep hush the fact she was running off with thousands of pounds, and her close relationship to manager Howell, the panel was told.

When asked about her connection to the nursery and its owner, Jenkins “sought to pin blame on others” and demonstrated “no insight, regret or remorse” for her actions, committee chair, Sue Davies said.

Jenkins was “proactive in promoting the nursery”, that she benefited from, to parents and the local community the panel was told, WalesOnline reports.

But her alleged money-making scheme began to fall apart after parents and school governors began to raise concerns in 2019. Jenkins was suspended and investigated before she formally stopped working on New Year’s Eve, 2020.

Although she was “obligated to make clear to school governors that she was joint owner of the nursery and could benefit financially”, she had not, Mr Griffiths told the panel.

The school’s governors “did not have a clear understanding of her involvement in the nursery” and despite “multiple opportunities to disclose her interest fully”, Jenkins was said to have never done so.

On occasions, when questioned about her links to the nursery, the headteacher said her name was on the nursery’s cheques, for which she was a signatory, the panel was told. But “what was required was a full and proper declaration to the governors of her business and financial involvement,” said Mr Griffiths.

Jenkins denied the allegations against her and had had a previously unblemished record. Her representative Patrick Cassidy claimed to the panel that she had “achieved in education for many years”, had been head of the school since 2010 and her work “bore great fruit for generations of children”.

Jenkins has now been struck off the EWC teacher’s register as well.

The allegations
The panel found all the following allegations against Jenkins proved – she continued to deny them all That she was guilty of ‘unacceptable professional conduct’ whilst employed as a teacher at Ysgol Ffwrnes in that:

  1. In relation to Cywion Cile nursery, operating at the School, she did not: a) In 2015, declare that she held a business interest in the nursery or a close personal relationship with its manager, Person A; and/or b) Provide sufficient detail about the nature of her business interest in the nursery or her relationship with Person A: i. In one or more Declaration of Interest forms between 2016 and 2018; and/ or ii. In discussions about the nursery in 2019;
  2. Whilst in her position as headteacher of the school she contributed to financial decisions which benefited the nursery in which she held, or had recently held, a business interest, including: a) Charging the nursery no rent for the years 2015-2017; and/or b) Charging the nursery an inappropriately low rent for 2017-2019.
  3. She allowed school resources and/or her time to be used :a) in a way which benefited the nursery and/or was detrimental to the interests of the school; and/or b) without approval from, or discussion with, the board of governors and/or finance committee; and/or c) in a way which was contrary to Carmarthenshire County Council’s financial procedure rules for schools and/or scheme for financing schools;
  4. Her conduct at 1a and/or 1b(i) and/or 1b(ii) and/or 2 was: a) dishonest; and/or b) lacking in integrity.
  5. The facts of paragraphs 1 to 4 above constitute unacceptable professional conduct.

Announcing the committee’s decision to strike Jenkins off the EWC teaching register, committee chair, Sue Davies, said the headteachers had shown “reckless disregard for her duties”.

“This was not an isolated lapse, it was over a long period. Mrs Lloyd-Jenkins was in a position of trust and responsibility and was an experienced headteacher who should have been aware of the obligations,” she told the panel.

“She stood to benefit personally from charging no, or low rent from 2015 to 2019.”

Striking Mrs Lloyd-Jenkins off the teaching register the committee ruled she cannot apply to re-join for four years, the committee ruled. She has 28 days to appeal to the High Court.

A statement from governors at the school said: “The Governing Body of Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes welcomes the findings of the Education Workforce Council.

“As stated by the outcome decision, Catherine Lloyd Jenkins deliberately acted dishonestly over a number of years which had a profound impact on Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes, its staff and ultimately its pupils.

“As a Governing Body we are pleased that the findings of the EWC supports the actions taken by the Board. The Governing Body would like to thank school staff and all those involved in supporting the school during this difficult period.”

(Source: Mirror)

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