Police probe after claims over cocaine use by primary school worker

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Springwood Community Primary School Springwood Community Primary School

A recording alleged to be a telephone conversation in which a member of staff at a Bradford primary school admits drug taking is now the subject of a police probe after it was passed to education chiefs.

An anonymous informant claims that the recording of a call between two men involves a staff member, who works closely with children at Springwood Community Primary School in Manningham, admitting to sniffing cocaine.

Copies of the recording have been passed to Kath Tunstall, Bradford Council’s strategic director of children’s services, education watchdog Ofsted, Councillor Ralph Berry, head of children and young people’s services, Bradford West MP George Galloway, and the Telegraph & Argus.

Mrs Tunstall has confirmed she is investigating the claim.

The anonymous email, which contains the recording, states that it was a phone call made in 2011 between a current school employee and a former school employee, the latter of whom the informant claims has been “arrested and charged by police”.

During the conversation, which the T&A has heard, the man said to be a staff member apparently confesses to sniffing cocaine. According to the school’s website he is still an employee at the school.

Investigators will try to determine the authenticity of the recording.

Coun Berry told the T&A last night: “We are in receipt of this. We are dealing with it and making sure the school governors are dealing with it.”

He said the motive for releasing the phone recording was not clear.

But Coun Berry added: “We have got to make sure that all issues are thoroughly and properly investigated and any concerns addressed as a matter of urgency, within the proper procedures.

“I imagine there will be legal advice given to the governors and the new head teacher about any police involvement.”

Head teacher Fran Warden, who had been in the post for 16 years, announced her retirement earlier this year and is thought to have left this week. Her replacement is due to start in January.

A school spokesman said: “We are aware of the email, its audio attachment and the content. The matter is under investigation and it would not be appropriate for us to comment at this stage.”

A Bradford Council spokesman said: “We are aware of the email and the content of the podcast. We have provided guidance and support to the school and are working with them on the next steps.”

Mrs Tunstall, responding to the email – which bore the subject ‘Gross misconduct at Springwood Community Primary School, Bradford’ – said: “I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your e-mail below. I will look into the matter you have raised.”

Mr Galloway (Respect) said: “Like others, I have received a recording of a phone conversation purporting to relate to staff members at Springwood School. The content of the discussion raises some disturbing questions now under investigation by the school, the Council and, I assume, the police.

“It is very important that we get to the bottom of what is going on here as quickly as possible.”

Sgt John Toothill, of the Manningham and Toller Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Drug taking is a criminal offence and the allegations will be thoroughly investigated.”

Last year, youngsters at the school, which has boys and girls aged between three and 11, were among a 2,000-strong children’s guard of honour to welcome athletes to the Olympic Stadium.

The previous year, school staff organised a Kick Racism Out Of Football competition for the district’s primary school children.

On its website, the school says: “We provide a happy, stimulating and exciting learning environment and we want to work in partnership with you to help your child achieve high standards in their work.”

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