A teacher was able to film himself abusing young girls in his classroom because school bosses failed to act on his increasingly sexual behaviour
, a damning report concluded today.
, 51, was described by a judge as a 'paedophile of the most sickening order' when he was jailed indefinitely last year after abusing five girls - some as young as six years old.
Leat, of Bristol, admitted 36 offences, including attempted rape of a child and sexual assault on children. Police also found more than 30,000 indecent photographs on memory sticks.
Senior managers at Hillside First School in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, had repeatedly been told of the married father of two's inappropriate behaviour by fellow teachers but failed to act.
The school's own management report notes at least 30 incidents of Leat's 'inappropriate or unprofessional conduct' - but only 11 were recorded formally within the school.
These included the teacher taking photographs of pupils on his mobile phone, of kissing and cuddling them and even one of him aroused while sitting with a pupil on cushions in the library.
Leat's actions only came to light in December 2010 when one of his victims told her mother that he had sexually assaulted her almost daily for the previous two months
. The woman called police and Leat was arrested.
The shocking catalogue of failed opportunities to tackle Leat was revealed in a serious case review by North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board published today, which made 32 recommendations for improvement.
- 20 pupils were witnesses or victim of abuse committed by Leat
- His behaviour was 'typical of the grooming' perpetrated by paedophiles
- He picked 'favourites' who were frequently less academic, needy or vulnerable
- Teachers were concerned enough to get these girls moved to other classes
- One reported Leat in his underpants and T-shirt getting changed in his classroom
- Another was told not to insinuate things after finding photos of Leat posing with a girl
There were also concerns raised about his lax and uninspiring teaching.
Despite all these fears, he was able to remain at the primary school for 15 years.
The report noted that within a year of his appointment - and throughout his time at the school - a number of teaching and support staff in the school had a variety of concerns about him.
'It is now known that (Leat) told children that they must keep things secret, which made disclosure to parents less likely,' it went on.
'Much of the behaviour exhibited by the teacher was typical of grooming activities pursued by adults intent on sexually abusing children,' they stated.
'The failure of school managers to take action in response to the concerns raised was compounded by the failure of anyone in the school to recognise that the teacher's behaviour might have constituted grooming for sexual abuse.
'The process of reporting and acting on concerns was positively hindered by a management style that discouraged comment and open communication.'
Last month headteacher Chris Hood left his post, having been suspended since the previous January.
Speaking at a press conference in Weston-Super-Mare, Tony Oliver, of the North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board, said Mr Hood presided over a school where teachers did not feel they could report problems to their superiors, allowing Leat to carry on his abuse for far longer than he otherwise may have.
He said the fact that 30 incidents were noted within the school and no action taken was 'grossly negligent'.
'I was astounded. I just could not believe this number of cases - these 30 incidences, and the 11 that were reported - were not acted upon,' Mr Oliver said.
'That is gross, gross negligence. No report was ever made by the school to the local authority who were totally unaware of these incidents and they remained within the school and not acted upon.
'Certainly there was a failure at every level within the school.
'There was a culture which just did not empower people to voice their concerns ... it could be interpreted as a culture of bullying.'
But he added: 'We can never say this will never happen again'