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Long Melford Primary School headteacher who resigned for ‘personal reasons’ lied about fire safety drills

PUBLISHED: 08:37 10 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:15 10 November 2017

Long Melford Primary School. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Long Melford Primary School. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A former Suffolk primary school headteacher has been banned from teaching for two years after she put pupils and staff at “significant risk” by failing to carry out fire drills and falsifying records to show she had.

Long Melford Primary School. Picture: GREGG BROWN Long Melford Primary School. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Paula Hagan was appointed as headteacher of Long Melford Primary School in January 2014 but left due to “personal reasons” in March 2015.

A professional conduct panel outcome report, published by the National College for Teaching and Leadership, has now revealed she failed to ensure that a fire practice took place each term, as required by a health and safety policy.

In a report for a governors’ meeting in February 2015, she falsely stated a fire drill took place the month before. She had planned to perform a drill before the meeting. A fire drill report dated June 19, 2014 which she completed and signed was also falsified.

She failed to ensure weekly fire alarm tests were conducted by the ‘custodian’ and failed to ensure a risk assessment plan was in place for people requiring help to evacuate. This was “crucial” as the building had “considerably” changed since the last assessment in October 2011, the report said.

She admitted all allegations in her statement, and they were all found to be proved by the panel.

She was “under extraordinary pressure professionally and personally,” the report said. No harm was caused by the “isolated series of incidents in a long and successful career”.

The report said: “Although Miss Hagan acted dishonestly, she has demonstrated significant and genuine insight and remorse. Falsifying documents and misleading the school placed pupils and staff at a significant risk of harm.”

She was banned from the teaching profession for two years.

The incidents took place under Suffolk County Council (SCC) control. SCC declined to comment.

The school joined the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Multi Academy Trust in September 2016. Spokesman John Howard said: “An investigation was undertaken when concerns were first raised. There are stringent fire safety procedures at our schools and, this term, there have already been two fire drills at Long Melford Primary School.

“Schools take the safety of pupils and staff very seriously and we want to reassure parents this was an isolated incident.”

Attempts to contact Miss Hagan, 43, were unsuccessful.

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