Monday, 20 May 2019

Former Highdown School headteacher in court

A HEADTEACHER fraudulently claimed almost £7,000 in expenses, a court heard

A HEADTEACHER fraudulently claimed almost £7,000 in expenses, a court heard.

Tim Royle lied by saying the money had been spent on attending conferences.

He is charged with three counts of fraud between September 2007 and October 2010, when he was headteacher at Highdown School and Sixth Form College in Emmer Green.

He is also accused of stealing a Nikon camera and lens, Sony video camera, MacBook Pro laptop, iMac computer and Bose speaker and headphones from the school when he retired in December 2012 after 14 years.

Royle, 64, of Woolton Hill, Hampshire, has denied all the charges. On Tuesday, Reading Crown Court heard how the school had been made a national support school by the National College for Teaching and Leadership. This allowed it to offer training and support to struggling schools.

Royle was made a national leader of education by the college, a government body.

He is alleged to have claimed bursary funds from the college to pay for attending conferences and training courses, despite the fees being paid by the school directly.

His first claim was for £2,000 for the 2007/08 academic year, followed by £2,246 in 2009 and £2,550 in 2010. The money was paid into a business account in Royle?s name.

John Law, prosecuting, said: ?He abused the specialist status he and the school had by keeping public monies which he had claimed for his own benefit.

?He had to fill a report out at the end of the year to say where the money had been spent.

?An experienced teacher would not need to be told to be accurate and truthful in what he said when he filled out those forms.

?What we say Mr Royle did is to lie on the report and falsely report and say that the money was spent on attending conferences when the school has its own budget for those conferences.?

When he was interviewed by the police, Royle denied any dishonesty and said he was entitled to the money. The court heard that more concerns were raised by the school?s business manager after Royle?s retirement when she noticed some electronic equipment was missing.

Police searched his house and found items matching the descriptions.

The former head admitted that the laptop and desktop computer were from the school but said he was allowed to take them with him when he left under an ?agreement?.

Mr Law said: ?A number of items were missing which were bought by Mr Royle using the school?s money. Those items were not declared on a board the school keeps on its property.

?The defendant accepts that the computers had come from the school but the camera, video camera and headphones had not. He took items with him when he retired that he was not entitled to and that belonged to the school.?

Neil Dimbleby, who was deputy headteacher at Highdown from September 2008 to September 2012, told the jury he ?wasn?t aware? of any arrangement where former headteachers could take items when they left.

He said the camera, video camera and speakers were bought to use around the school and on training courses.

Mr Dimbleby, who is now headteacher of a school in Maidenhead, said: ?Mr Royle bought several cameras and distributed them to senior staff to capture things around school to be used as promotional material.?

He admitted that he had never seen any documents about the college grants and he couldn?t say whether Mr Royle had lied on the forms.

Nicholas Syfret QC, defending, said Royle, was ?instrumental? in transforming Highdown from an underachieving school into one which was rated ?outstanding? by the education watchdog Ofsted in 2010.

He said: ?Highdown was a school with falling rolls and great difficulties trying to get them up.

?When Mr Dimbleby joined it was very much a school on the road to recovery. The headmaster was absolutely instrumental to that recovery.

?So grateful was the school to this man for his contribution that they named an art building after him.?

The trial before Judge Angela Morris continues.

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