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Sacked head teacher 'devastated'

21 January 09 21:12 GMT

A former head teacher credited with turning around a failing Manchester school has told a disciplinary hearing of her devastation at being sacked.

Dame Jean Else, 57, was suspended as head of Whalley Range High School for Girls in 2004, and sacked in 2006.

She apologised to a General Teaching Council (GTC) panel for not following procedures during her time in charge.

She denies that 12 allegations, including nepotism, against her amount to professional misconduct.

The former head said of her suspension: "I can only describe it as devastating.

"I have been through a bereavement, I believe, because I lost something that I loved.

"Where I have not followed procedures, I can only say that I'm sorry."

'Extremely effective'

Dame Jean admits the facts of 10 of the allegations against her, but denies that they constitute unprofessional conduct.

The hearing in Birmingham was told Dame Jean failed to follow recruitment and promotion procedures in relation to a total of 10 staff at the school, including her twin sister Maureen Rochford, who joined as a volunteer and later became an assistant head.

She also failed to follow correct procedures when awarding salary increases to staff, including her twin.

Dame Jean said her biggest regret was not making notes about the process of her sister's appointments at the school.

But she added: "I don't want in any way to suggest that I regret appointing her."

GTC presenting officer Andrew Faux had told the hearing that Dame Jean turned the school around and improved its attendance rate to 96%.

The percentage of pupils gaining five GCSEs at Grade A*-C increased from 16% to 57% under Dame Jean's leadership.

Mr Faux said there was "no dispute that Dame Jean was an extremely effective head".

But the presenting officer asked the panel to consider whether the head had provided equality of opportunity in the recruitment process.

Kevin Jaquiss, the solicitor representing Dame Jean, stressed that his client made 415 appointments during her 10-year headship and that only 10 had been made without a formal interview or shortly after an advertisement.

The panel has retired to consider its findings and will resume deliberations on Thursday.

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