February 2004

Head bows to parent pressure

A HEADTEACHER has bowed to pressure from parents and resigned from a village school.

Susan Harvey, who was the headmistress at the Hutchinson Memorial First School in Checkley near Uttoxeter, has handed in her resignation after her husband was jailed for downloading child pornography from the Internet.

Mrs Harvey came under pressure from parents to quit after her husband, Sydney, admitted 20 sample charges of making indecent photographs of children and five of possessing the images.

Sydney Harvey, 59, of Smithfield Road, Uttoxeter, was jailed for 18 months after his computer hard drive was found to contain more than 22,000 images of child pornography.

The retired electrician was caught by police during a nationwide swoop on Internet child pornography, entitled Operation Ore.

The images included 281 ‘Category Five’ pictures – the most depraved images. Since Harvey was sentenced at Stafford Crown Court earlier this year, a group of parents have been calling for Mrs Harvey to step down while others, including Uttoxeter religious leaders, have been speaking out in her defence.

A petition containing the signatures of more than 40 parents was handed over to Staffordshire County Council last month calling for her to step down.

Mrs Harvey, who has been married to her husband for 29 years and who has been working from home since the sentencing hearing, will now be replaced at the school.

A county council spokesman said: “We can confirm that Mrs Harvey has tendered her resignation with effect from Easter, 2004.

“The education of the children is our paramount concern and no class will be left without a teacher.” In a letter sent to parents, Bill Dewar, head of the county council’s school effectiveness unit, told parents that Mrs Harvey would be working from home ‘on behalf of the school’ until Easter.

Originally, Mrs Harvey said she would be returning to the school after the February half-term.

Mr Dewar said: “I would very much want to thank Mrs Harvey for her considerable service to pupils in Staffordshire and particularly as head at Hutchinson. 

“Her decision has been made in the interests of the school and I would urge all parents now to give the school the opportunity to move on for the benefit of pupils.”