Sheffield school rocked by sex abuse claim to stay closed

Parents and relatives  at Greenlands Nursery and Infant school
Parents and relatives at Greenlands Nursery and Infant school
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A SHEFFIELD schoool rocked by allegations of sex abuse against a pupil will remain closed for a second day.

In an unprecedented move, Greenlands Nursery Infants in Darnall will not open tomorrow as police appealed for calm in the community.

Dr Sonia Sharp, the city’s executive director of children’s services, said she hoped the school would re-open on Thursday.

Around 350 parents and carers gathered at the school yesterday morning after rumours began circulating that a staff member had been arrested over an allegation made by a young boy.

The member of staff - whom The Star understands is not a teacher - has been suspended.

Parents demanded a meeting with the headteacher, Sue Daniels, who apparently kept the growing crowd waiting in the playground for 90 minutes before opening up the school hall for an impromptu public meeting.

She confirmed a member of staff has been quizzed by police and suspended from the school, pending the outcome of an investigation.

She refused to disclose to parents the nature of the allegation - but police have revealed it is an allegation of “serious sexual assault”.

Police officers were called to the school to monitor the growing crowd of concerned parents.

Mothers and fathers, some of them in tears, left the school with their children yesterday morning and many said they will not allow them back until more information is provided about the nature of the allegation made.

The allegation was made on Friday, when the child concerned spoke to his mother and she notified the school.

Parents at the school said the young boy had been examined by a doctor and was kept in hospital over the weekend.

They said they were upset and disappointed by the way the school had handled the situation - criticising the headteacher for failing to notify parents of the allegation over the weekend, or issuing a letter when they arrived at the school gates yesterday.

A group of parents said they called at homes in the neighbourhood over the weekend to notify as many families as possible about the allegation, and advised them to keep their children off school until their questions are answered.

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman confirmed: “On Friday officers received a report of an allegation of a serious sexual offence at a school in the Darnall area of Sheffield.

“Police arrested a person in connection with this matter, who has since been questioned and released on police bail pending further inquiries.

“The Darnall and Tinsley Safer Neighbourhood Team are working with the local community to address any concerns, and the investigating officers currently believe the alleged incident to be isolated.”

Detective Inspector Sean McMahon said: “The investigation is being progressed as quickly as possible having regard to the serious nature of the allegation made.”

Dr Sonia Sharp, Executive Director of Children and Young People’s Services for Sheffield Council, said: “We are aware of an allegation at a local school and we are working closely with the police to facilitate a thorough investigation.

“We are unable to comment further on the case because the investigation is ongoing.

“In the meantime we are providing support and reassurance to parents and carers, and staff at the school.”

Nicola Wilson, 29, whose four-year-old son has been at the school for only one week, said: “It is really worrying. My son won’t be going back until I know what has happened.

“I was shaking when I arrived and saw everyone protesting because you think of schools as places of safety.”

Nabil Mohammed, 41, whose children attend the school, said: “As parents we have the right to know what has happened and that our children are safe. We want and deserve answers.

“My children will not be going back until we know everything there is to know about this allegation - the school owes us that.”

Shaaista Khan, 27, who has two children at the school, said: “I am disgusted at the way parents have been treated - there was nobody to answer our questions when we arrived and all the school has said is our children are safe - and they should be, but that doesn’t stop us worrying.

“This is not the headteacher’s fault but it is her responsibility to deal with it properly and reassure us our children are safe.”

Anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 0114 220 2020 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.