DESERTED: School at the centre of pupil’s sex abuse claim shut for a second day

Greenlands Nursery and Infant school
Greenlands Nursery and Infant school
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A HEADTEACHER has been asked to work away from her school for the rest of the week by her governors and Sheffield’s education chief.

Sue Daniels, head of Greenlands Nursery Infants in Darnall - which has been hit by allegations of sex abuse against a pupil - is not expected to return until after half term.

In an unprecedented move, Greenlands was shut for a second day today - as police appealed for calm in the local community.

Dr Sonia Sharp, the city’s executive director of children’s services, said the decision to ask Mrs Daniels not to go to the school had been taken as part of her ‘duty of care’ as an employer.

Tempers have been running high in the community since an allegation of a sexual assault was made last Friday.

“A lot of parents have been left very distressed by these events - they are confused, upset and angry, and quite understandably so,” said Dr Sharp.

“This allegation concerns a nursery infant school, a place where parents need to be doubly sure whether their children are safe or not.”

Parents and staff are receiving counselling at the school from social workers and psychologists, and sessions are set to continue for the rest of the week. No further allegations have been made.

Dr Sharp said she hoped the school would re-open tomorrow.

Parents staged a demonstration outside the school on Monday, and urged a boycott of lessons, following an allegation that a male school worker had sexually assaulted a young boy there.

The member of staff at the centre of the allegation - not a teacher - has been suspended pending the outcome of a police investigation, which police have confirmed followed a report of ‘a serious sexual offence at a school’.

The man was arrested by police on Friday and quizzed by detectives before being released on bail pending further inquiries.

Mrs Daniels and members of staff were later confronted at a packed meeting in the hall attended by hundreds of angry parents who claimed the school had tried to stage a cover up.

More than 60 people were unable to get in.

Chief Superintendent Simon Torr, Sheffield’s District Commander, said: “This is clearly a very emotional issue for all concerned and from a police perspective everything that needs to be done is being done.

“We need to let the investigation continue and I would appeal for calm and for people to let that happen.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation and we will speak to whoever necessary to get to the truth.

“This is a search for the truth - that is what I am interested in.”

Dr Sharp said the school had followed procedure to the letter, and could not be faulted in any way - despite parents’ concerns.

“Police were in school within two hours and an investigation began immediately. In the initial stages things proceeded on a need-to-know basis,” she said.

“It was very unusual for parents to become aware of the allegations as quickly as they did. I have never before had to close a school in these circumstances,” Dr Sharp added.

Chf Supt Torr said a series of meetings, involving police, education chiefs and governors, had been held about the immediate future of the school.

“What happens at the school now is a matter for the LEA and school governors. Meetings have been going on,” he said.

A low key police presence will be maintained around the school for the rest of the week.