Not the usual teacher's pet!... 7ft boa is kept in head's office
A private school headteacher kept a 7ft-long boa constrictor and tarantulas in his office without checking if they posed a risk to his pupils, a report has revealed.
Reverend Chris Oakey has been slammed by regulator Ofsted for keeping the potentially deadly animals at Luton Pentecostal Church Christian Academy in Church Street.
In a report which rated the £240-a-month school as “inadequate” the regulator said that no risk assessment was made about the dangers posed by tropical creatures.
It added: “The proprietor has not ensured that all necessary risk assessments are carried out and that they are updated regularly.
“For example, a 7ft-long boa constrictor and a number of tarantulas are kept in the principal’s office.
“No risk assessment has been made to ensure that keeping such animals in school does not pose a risk to children.”
The report said the school also kept a number of other pets - to “enhance the work of the school” - which had not been assessed for their risk to children. It is not known what these other animals were.
The independent Christian school has 58 pupils aged three to 13 years old. It charges parents £240-a-month and £150 per month if grant-aided.
In its previous inspection is was rated as “good” but was found to be “inadequate” in all areas during Ofsted’s latest inspection which was carried out in October last year.
In addition to the safeguarding issues the report found that the school had not properly checked staff were suitable to work with children.
It said: “It has not ensured that all the necessary pre-employment checks of staffs’ suitability to work with children have been carried out.
“For example, prohibition from teaching checks have not been done. The approach to employing new staff is lax and relies too heavily on personal connections and the surety of already knowing prospective employees.”
The report was published last week and also said the school had not met the “independent school standards”.
It said the school had no first-aid policy, leaders “did not promote harmony” and that pupils’ attainment is “below expectations for their age”.
Ofsted did say, however, that pupils were “polite, friendly and well-mannered” and that behaviour was “good throughout the school”.
It said leaders were “deeply committed” to further improvements.
Advice issued to schools by Public Health England says reptiles “are not suitable” as pets and that “all species carry salmonella”.
Andrea Williams is the chief executive from Christian Concern, a not-for-profit company which is supporting Luton Pentecostal Church Christian Academy.
She said: “His (Mr Oakey) office is away from the pupils. All the lessons are on the ground floor of the building and his office is on the first floor.
“He has kept snakes for years. His office is always locked when he is not there and the boa constrictor is kept in a tank which is locked.”
Mrs Williams explained that the school is in a deprived part in the centre of Luton, Beds, and has pupils from a variety of backgrounds.
She said that many of the pupils have never interacted with animals before and it is part of their education which is “overwhelmingly” supported by their parents.
She added: “It is a pioneering school in a deprived area which has won diversity awards where children are loved and nurtured and go on to do very well.”
A risk assessment has since been carried out into the snake and tarantulas. It found that there were no safety issues, according to Ms Williams.