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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 17:05 GMT
Agency admits error over teacher
Amy Gehring:
Amy Gehring: Good references, agency said
The teacher recruitment agency TimePlan, which employed a woman cleared of indecently assaulting teenage boys, has said it should not have kept her on following earlier allegations about her behaviour.

Amy Gehring, 26, a Canadian national living in Hampton, south west London, was cleared on Monday of indecently assaulting two school boys in Surrey between November 2000 and January 2001.

It has emerged that complaints about the behaviour of Ms Gehring while on a previous contract at a different school in Surrey, in September 2000, had led to a police and child protection team investigation - although no charges were brought.


She may act in the same way again if she obtained another teaching position, and pose a risk to children

Child protection unit's letter to TimePlan
The Department for Education and other local schools were also notified about Ms Gehring's alleged conduct involving two boys.

Detective Inspector Simon Welfare of the Surrey Police vulnerable persons unit said: "We made it perfectly clear to the department that this woman posed a risk."

But, despite a written warning from Surrey's child protection unit, teacher recruitment agency TimePlan went on to place her in a number of other Surrey schools for day-to-day supply work.

Department accused

The Conservatives have accused the department of not acting on the information it had been given.

A spokesman for the department said: "This case has raised extremely serious issues which we will be discussing with teacher supply agencies.

"We have already had a meeting with TimePlan and will follow their internal inquiry very closely."

TimePlan has admitted that, on the basis of the child protection team's letter - received by the company's Surrey office on 9 November 2000 - she should have been withdrawn from schools immediately.

It said the mistake was down to one member of staff in its Surrey office who had chosen not to act upon the letter's advice.

Responsibility

"TimePlan fully accepts that an error was made - the director of education in our Surrey office should have informed head office of the contents of the letter," said spokesman Barry Hugill.

"There is no way she would have ever set foot in a school on the basis of that recommendation."

The director has since been sacked and TimePlan's national director of education has resigned.

Barry Hugill
Barry Hugill: "There were no problems with her CV"
Mr Hugill said that when the first complaints against Ms Gehring had been investigated and the police had decided - in October 2000 - to take no further action, there was no reason to drop her from its books.

"We thought it was yet another case of boys fantasising and, thinking she was the victim here, we decided she should go on teaching," he said.

She was given day-to-day supply work from 1 November.

Well qualified

The agency confirmed Ms Gehring was a qualified teacher - although she had not had a full teaching position before coming to England - and had passed her Bachelor of Education in Canada with distinction.


There were no problems with her CV and all her references were good

Barry Hugill, TimePlan
"She wasn't desperately experienced, but that's not a major issue because all teachers have to start somewhere," said Mr Hugill.

"There were no problems with her CV and all her references were good.

"In fact we have gone over them since, just to check, and they are fine - indeed, all the people we've spoken to in Canada were very surprised at the news."

The company had a rigorous selection procedure in place and had successfully recruited teachers from all over the English-speaking Commonwealth, he added.

"We're confident our vetting procedures are sound, so we will stick to those.

"The 6,000 teachers on our books have been checked out again and employees at TimePlan have been told what they already know - that they should never ignore child protection team advice," said Mr Hugill.

Child protection unit

In a statement, Surrey County Council confirmed that Ms Gehring had taught in Surrey as a supply teacher for a short period in 2000.

"Surrey Police carried out an investigation with Surrey County Council's social services department into Ms Gehring's alleged behaviour with male pupils at one school where she taught as a supply teacher," the statement said.

"Surrey County Council's child protection unit formally notified TimePlan in November 2000 that it had concerns about Ms Gehring's future as a teacher.

"It also informed the recruitment agency that it was of the opinion that 'she may act in the same way again if she obtained another teaching position, and pose a risk to children'," the statement continued.

Surrey County Council stressed that Ms Gehring was not employed by the council and was not subject to its disciplinary procedures.

The council said it was reviewing its procedures with teacher recruitment agencies to see what improvements could be made in the light of the case.

See also:

04 Feb 02 | England
Teacher cleared of sex with boys
04 Feb 02 | Education
How teachers avoid dangerous liaisons
30 Jan 02 | England
Sex charge against teacher dropped
29 Jan 02 | England
Boys 'offered money' for story
10 Jul 00 | Education
The child protection blacklists
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