Superhead suspended

Jo Shuter, charismatic head teacher of an academy, has been suspended following allegations of financial mismanagement. When appointed, she was one of the youngest headteachers in the country. She was due to be the subject of a TV documentary, which the BBC scrapped when they realised it had been produced by Shuter’s sister, and directed by her sister’s partner. Seven members of her family had been employed by the school. An investigation concluded that Shuter had “blurred the boundaries between personal and professional resources.”

Having a quirky memory and a filing system, I was reminded of Richard Wealthall, a headteacher suspended in July 2002 for employing and promting members of his own family, including his former wife and his mistress. He was also accused of bullying staff and abusing school resources.

Two tragic cases, more than ten years apart. What do they have in common? Both headteachers had been enthusiastically praised by Tony Blair. Exactly what was it that attracted him to trusting chancers who thought the rules applied to someone else?