Thursday, 18 November 2010

Helen Denton - LCC

Executive Director for Children & Young People, Lancashire County Council (2008- )

Tel. (44)1772 254868

Helen Denton was appointed on 1 August 2008, following the retirement of Pat Jefferson.

She was born in Blackpool and started her career as a secondary teacher in Moss Side, Manchester before a spell as head of home economics in a school in Hong Kong. On returning to the UK, she completed her Masters degree, worked for the Department for Education & Science and then began her career in local government with Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council.

Initially appointed as an Assistant Education Officer, she gained experience across a range of areas before becoming an Assistant Director with broad responsibilities across the inclusion services. A move to Leeds City Council followed to be Head of Service for Children and Families and she was then appointed as Assistant Education Director for Sefton Metropolitan Council.

Over the years I have written to her to express my concerns with regard to the failings of her departments and their members in my case.

Without qualification, she replied : “I do not feel that it is in the best interests of all of the parties involved for this to be re-examined.”

I also provided Helen Denton with evidence showing that a ‘key’ hostile witness, Anne Callander, had lied and perjured themselves at both the disciplinary and appeal hearings.

She immediately replied : “I do not see that does anything to change the current position with regard to your own closed case, so the situation remains that no further action will be taken within Lancashire County Council.”

16 November 2010 - Helen Denton
courtesy BBC Radio Lancashire - Graham Liver

03 March 2009 - Barry Sheerman, MP
Chair of the House of Commons Select Committee For Children, Schools and Families
courtesy BBC Radio 4 - File on 4

I would suggest that he should make a start with Helen Denton ! (The contrast between what she believes and what he knows is immense; as is his sense of compassion.)

The system’s not fair ! Hmm … I don’t think that I would agree with that ! I think probably we have to say what is the most important thing that we’re doing and that’s keeping our children and young people safe. And in any system we have to have a balance between the needs of children and young people and their parents because parents entrust us with their children and they entrust us to keep them safe.
This is indeed the responsibility of a school and LEA – to keep children safe. Who therefore has responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of a teacher ? There is clearly a conflict of interest that can never be overcome during a case of an allegation of assault by a member staff against a pupil. The requirements for ‘Natural Justice’ can never be met without the intervention of a wholly independent third party.

The governors are in a very difficult position in terms of having to take the word of one member of staff against another.
Again this is why the hearing panel should be independent and trained. It is simply not possible to reliably judge truth in such circumstances and the panel would need to proceed with extreme caution. The ultimate suggestion would be the introduction of a polygraph examination – which I would recommend as a simple yet reliable solution for such situations.

The head master and the governors; they basically sit as judge and jury and the teachers that we’ve been talking to don’t think that’s fair. Yes. Hmm. Our advice to the governors is that they have to keep the vast majority of governors separate from any investigations that take place.
Dead right ! Typical politician ! Little wonder that Helen never answered the question. How can anyone believe that a head teacher and his governing body could ever provide an impartial outcome for any teacher ?

The whole thing is so incestuous – all in bed together ! It’s obscene and outrageous – this is not justice and never could be. The head teacher and governors have their own agenda as does the LEA. The governors have a responsibility to support the head teacher, sometimes without question ! The teacher will be known to the governors.

I had been a governor at Duke Street. The teaching assistant who made the accusation is a governor. The supply teacher who filled my post was a governor. Two hostile witnesses were also governors. The chair of governors resigned over my case. At my disciplinary hearing, I was judged by a florist (Nigel West of Marshalls) and his delivery man. The same florist, now chair of governors, has the contract to supply Duke Street with its floral requirements. How incestuous a relationship do you want ? This was never fair, never impartial and never honest !

It would be very difficult in any circumstances to keep the anonymity of somebody entirely free.
Anonymity will never be easy to ensure and protect; however it would not be expected that the LEA would provide press releases to all local newspapers – they did in my case and on three occasions ! They also failed to alert me to the fact that they had spoken with the press and that a story would be featured.

You know it’s with great sorrow that we would lose very good teachers but there aren’t a very significant proportion of them.
Ho hum … thank goodness there’s only a few teachers whose lives have been destroyed. Remember too that these teachers can end up losing their families and several have committed suicide. How can anyone show such brutal callousness and outright cruelty ? How many would Helen Denton like to see before she considers it to be of concern. Surely one teacher is enough ! Teachers, in these situations, should be compensated for the damage to their careers and lives.

We have to be seen to be keeping children safe and parents would expect us to do that.
Here again is the crux of the injustice. Surely we should be keeping children safe – being ‘seen’ to do so sounds like ‘lip service’. And this is the problem – sacking a teacher, even though innocent, is a politically correct decision that costs nothing and enhances the image of the school, LEA and Helen Denton !

She is dangerously close to sanctioning and authorizing behaviour and processes that are not dissimilar to those of the ‘Salem Witch Trials’ of the 1690’s using exactly the same rationale and paranoid argument !

The system and everybody within it tries to do everything that they can both to support those people who are going through that process and also to make it is as fair and equitable as possible in terms of ensuring that they conduct a proper investigation and thoroughly consider the facts in terms of whenever they take any action against a teacher on the grounds of their professional conduct.
They don’t try very hard ! What support did you provide me ? – Absolutely nothing ! Lancashire County Council sanctioned an investigation by a narcissistic head teacher who had a documented history of resentment toward me. They ignored presented facts and mistakes were made in the final reports. They excluded governors from hearings. Senior HR departmental staff lied – Vic Welch for example. Lancashire County Council took full control of my appeal hearing; the governing body played no part in this farce. 95% of all questions originated from Anne Sutton (HR). In short, it was Lancashire County Council who found me guilty and at all costs !
(ref : Sweep It Under The Rug)

It would be very difficult to see how the system could change to make it fairer.
Well there we go ! A very brave statement, usually reserved for idiots and those about to experience what it feels like to put their ‘foot in their mouth’ ! No system is 100% perfect and this one just does not work at all !

Here’s a suggestion; Why not ask the teachers what they would like to happen ?

By the way, you will find that you can see a lot better with your eyes open !

Helen Denton has the authority, power and control to make a difference, to make changes, to introduce fresh initiatives to help resolve a nightmare for all teachers. Her problem is that it is simpler to sack a teacher, to take their career and their life to appease parents and public alike – child protection is ‘seen’ to be paramount.

It takes a strong stomach to undertake such an act, there can be no regret, no remorse, no sorrow, no heart or compassion. This fact is exemplified in Helen Denton’s radio presentation for she expresses no mention or reference to caring for the teacher.

She knows that I speak the truth. She knows that I did nothing. She knows that I have experienced utter humiliation, destruction of career and life through no fault. She knows that her staff lied, governors lied and that the head teacher, Andrew Kidd, lied. She knows that I never received fair nor impartial treatment or support. She can not reopen my case for she already knows that the outcome would result in the destruction of large and key elements of her own world and that of the school. She also knows that I will never stop. One day the truth ‘will out’ for me and many other teachers.

I challenge her for I can substantiate what I say. She can not for her claims are false and without substance.

Some may wonder why I have not taken action through Lancashire County Council’s own complaints procedure. This course of action was suggested to me by both David Cameron and Michael Gove earlier this year. The ‘Catch 22’ is that Lancashire County Council can veto complaints that they don’t like and this is how they treated my complaint !

Others have suggested taking legal action, embarking on a suit of malfeasance against Lancashire County Council but that requires enormous funds and I have no resources.

So, unless you know of an altruistic legal team, I am reliant on the investigative power of journalists.

I close this entry with my ultimate horror episode. No one, not even Helen Denton, should experience how this feels. It is an event that will live with me forever and, even today, I can not listen to this recording.

31 October 2007 - Jane Watts
courtesy HM Police - Leyland, Preston

It would take a hardened criminal to even consider lying under the stress of a police arrest interview and it is something that even a humble reception teacher is not equipped !

I will say, contrary to what Helen Denton might say, is that this was the only time that I was treated with any humility, kindness and sensitivity. The police have a terrible job to do but they do it well and I thank them !

“I do not feel that it is in the best interests of all of the parties involved for this to be re-examined.”
Helen Denton

It is not in your best interests nor those who were involved in this travesty of justice.

It is, however, in my best interest and of every teacher in the United Kingdom and even the rest of the world !

Ultimately, radical reform will result in improvements in security and safety for child, parent and teacher - which is what everyone wants - Natural Justice !
Jane Watts

Please help me to make a difference – three years of utter misery and struggle is too much to bear. I have fought with honour and dignity throughout but I want an end to my life like this for this is not living, it is a slow death – a prisoner can expect better treatment. For a prisoner there is an end but for me this injustice will be with me forever – every day, every hour, every minute for the rest of my life – it will never fade … imagine how it feels to be wrongly accused of assaulting a child ! Help me to bring those who are responsible to account. Help me to clear my name.

I invite representatives of the media to contact me. Please help me to continue my fight - there is a story of corruption, suffering and is of enormous significance to 450,000 teachers and to the rest of British society - let me continue to tell my story !

Jane Watts :