A FORMER Wickford headteacher has been banned from teaching for life.

The Education Secretary barred former Castledon School head, Carole Ritchie, from the profession after she admitted five counts of unacceptable professional misconduct at a teaching tribunal.

She has been barred from the profession for life, although she may apply to have the order set aside after two years.

Ritchie, 57, employed her now husband, Colin Ritchie, as a teaching assistant, despite knowing he had criminal convictions which would show up on a Criminal Records Bureau check.

She later employed Mr Ritchie’s firm, CPR Management UK, to carry out building work at Castledon, which went more than £60,000 over budget.

A notice, published on behalf of the Secretary of State Michael Gove, said: “The facts in this case centre on Mrs Ritchie’s failure to follow proper financial and recruitment procedures at the school, procedures that were in place in order to ensure the appropriate use of public monies and to safeguard pupils.

“The financial failures happened on a number of occasions across a significant period of time.

“The admitted facts disclose failures that together demonstrate very poor judgment and a lack of compliance.

“Her proper handling of other contractors led the panel to conclude that her disregard of procedures was both selective and deliberate.”

The panel heard Mrs Ritchie, who was then known as Carole Clift, appointed her then partner as a senior learning support assistant without the post being advertised, him submitting an application, attending an interview or having any previous experience.

He resigned, but three months later his company, CPR, based in Lower Southend Road, Wickford, was appointed to carry out building work.

Mrs Ritchie ignored advice from Stephen Nunn, the school’s human resources adviser, who said Mr Ritchie was not a suitable person to be employed at the school.

The panel found Mrs Ritchie did not go through the proper process when tendering out six projects to CPR, including work to the car park, playground resurfacing and a bungalow conversion.

She also failed to get at least three competitive quotes.

Four of the six projects then ran significantly over initial quotes – by about £60,000.

Mrs Ritchie has 28 days to appeal the ban.

Parents at Castledon School were left in the dark after Mrs Ritchie took five months’ paid leave and then resigned as head in 2012. 

Governors confirm a full inquiry was held

GOVERNORS at Castledon School say they launched a full inquiry when Carole Ritchie’s misconduct came to light.

Chair of governors, Nan Ashkettle, said the former head appeared before a school panel and was dismissed.

Ms Ashkettle said: “The school is bound by the Financial Regulations Scheme of Delegation.

“The close monitoring of all expenditure in excess of the headteacher’s authorised limits are closely monitored by the full governing body at regular intervals. Additionally, monthly reconciliation checks are made.

“The Governing Body conducted a full inquiry when they realised the correct processes had not been adhered to and Ms Ritchie appeared before a panel of governors and she was dismissed. The findings were referred to the National College for Teaching and Leadership for further action.

“The matter was referred to the police who, following investigation, decided not to proceed with the case.”