Acclaimed headteacher charged with sex offences against a boy

The Northern Echo: Anne Lakey Anne Lakey

A HIGH-flying headteacher who won national acclaim for transforming her school into one of the most improved in the country has been charged with a string of sexual offences against a child.

The Northern Echo can reveal that Anne Lakey, chief executive of the Durham Federation, who had been suspended since last December was yesterday (Wednesday, December 4) charged with eight allegations relating to a boy aged under 16.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Mrs Lakey faces four counts of indecent assault, two counts of gross indecency and two counts of incitement to commit gross indecency, all involving the same boy and said to have taken place between April 1988 and May 1989.

The alleged victim was not a pupil at any school where Mrs Lakey has worked.

The charges will come as a huge shock, as Mrs Lakey was a national pioneer in schooling – feted by politicians and education officials alike.

Caroline O’Neill, head of education at Durham County Council, said the charges were “clearly very concerning”.

However, she added: “I would like to reassure everyone that we will continue to offer our support to parents, pupils and the school to ensure that the education and wellbeing of young people is not affected.”

Governors and senior teachers will be briefed on the news today and pupils will be given letters to take home.

Having entered teaching in 1982, Mrs Lakey became headteacher at Deerness Valley Comprehensive School, in Ushaw Moor, near Durham, in 2001.

That school later became Durham Community Business College (DCBC), which in 2006 joined with Fyndoune Community College, in Sacriston, to form the Durham Federation, one of the first of its kind.

DCBC became a pioneer of vocational education, while Fyndoune has been named among the most improved state secondary schools in the country for each of the last three years.

Mrs Lakey was appointed to the National Leaders of Education, a body tasked with transforming struggling schools, and Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, hailed her “inspiring leadership”.

However, the 53-year-old was suspended last December.

The crisis at the school deepened when Trevor Dunn, who took over from her having previously been DCBC principal, was himself suspended in October and Sam Robbins, who succeeded Mr Dunn having previously been head of Fyndoune, was also suspended just a few weeks later.

Some parents have voiced their anger at being kept in the dark over what was going on behind the school gates.

Last night, Ms O’Neill said the charges against Mrs Lakey were “entirely unrelated” to the suspension of Mr Dunn and Mrs Robbins and the latter two have now returned to school.

However, the council refused to say why they had been suspended.

David Bell, the school’s chair of governors, said the Federation had continued to deliver high quality education in Mrs Lakey’s absence and staff were committed to ensuring the charges against her have no negative impact on any child’s education in any way.

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