Paedophile teacher Nigel Leat 'too cuddly'
- 26 January 2012
- From the section Bristol
"There was always something there that wasn't quite right," says a mother who claimed her daughter was a victim of paedophile Nigel Leat.
She says: "He was too cuddly, he was too touchy-feely."
But the warning signs were not spotted and a serious case review has found a "lamentable failure" by management at Hillside First School in Weston-super-Mare.
Last summer, 51-year-old Leat was jailed indefinitely for abusing children there, some of them as young as six.
But despite his incarceration - and a review which pointed to warning signs - the impression he left will stay with all those associated with the school.
One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said her daughter did not initially complain of having been abused by Leat. Her claims were not part of the police investigation.
"She had been touched. It was all in the classroom," the parent said.
"She didn't come out until after the court case because then she found that she was safe and he had been put away and the threats that had kept her quiet were gone.
"I honestly thought she wasn't a victim."
But the truth came out when the little girl felt safe - and when Leat was behind bars.
"I spoke to her - I spoke openly with her - and she said 'no nothing happened to me, Mummy' and she said she was fine and she'd tell me.
"But when she confessed it to me she broke down and I broke down.
"I reassured her that she'd done the right thing. We obviously took it to the police and reported it."
The parent said the school had mis-handled complaints over Leat and the concerns that were raised about him.
"I'm very angry with why there was so much information beforehand.
"The information was there that he was not a good teacher, there were signs of concern but why wasn't it picked up?"
Tony Oliver, from the North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board, said Leat's case amounted to "a gross failure of responsibility".
"The report identifies that it was an endemic culture where people did not feel able to report matters to their supervisors, to their superiors, right up to the top to the head teacher."
The board has recommended that the report be read up and down UK by head teachers.
"We can never say this will never happen again," Mr Oliver added.
"But what we have to do in North Somerset is make sure that the policies and practices, which exist already, are fully known and acted upon by those who have the care and education of the children in this area."