A HIGH-flying headteacher has today appeared in court charged with a string of sexual offences against a child.

Anne Lakey - who won national acclaim for transforming her school into one of the most improved in the country - faces four counts of indecent assault, two counts of gross indecency and two counts of incitement to commit gross indecency.

The offences are all said to have been committed against the same boy in Stanley, County Durham, between April 1988 and May 1989 when she was in her late 20's.

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Appearing before magistrates in Consett, the 54-year-old indicated she would deny all charges.

Asked whether she would be indicating pleas at the first hearing, she said: “I am indeed. Not guilty.”

Prosecutor Blair Martin said the Crown Prosecution Service would say Ms Lakey entered into a sexual relationship with the boy, now aged about 40, while working as a teacher, although the boy was not a pupil at her school.

Mr Martin said there had been a “severe abuse of a position of trust”.

Because of the seriousness of the allegations, he asked the magistrates to decline jurisdiction and send the case to the crown court, which the bench agreed to do.

Richard Copsey, for Ms Lakey, of Oxhill Villas, Stanley, said: “She strongly denies these allegations.”

The case was adjourned to Durham Crown Court on Tuesday, January 28.

At the close of the five-minute hearing, Ms Lakey confirmed she understood everything that had happened in court, thanked the magistrates and was granted unconditional bail.

Ms Lakey has been suspended from her role as chief executive of The Durham Federation of schools since December 2012.

The Federation includes Fyndoune Community College in Sacriston, which has been named among the most improved state secondary schools in the country for each of the last three years, and Durham Community Business College (DCBC) in Ushaw Moor, a pioneer of vocational education.

Having entered teaching in 1982, Ms Lakey became headteacher at Deerness Valley Comprehensive School, which later became DCBC, in 2001.

Her work won her a countrywide troubleshooting role in turning round failing schools with the National Leaders of Education group and led Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, to praise her “inspiring leadership”.