The former headteacher of a west Suffolk prep school has been accused of drinking on the school premises, storing alcohol in science lab fridges and having problems surrounding safeguarding practices.

Dr Lynda Brereton had been headteacher at independent Fairstead House School in Newmarket from 2015 until 2021, when she resigned after a whistleblower reported the allegations.

A Teaching Regulation Agency misconduct hearing, which began on Monday, heard the accusations included consuming alcohol on more than one occasion on the school premises during school hours and whilst pupils were on site. 

Dr Brereton is also alleged to have kept alcohol in fridges in the office and the science lab and to have offered alcohol to other members of staff. 

Further allegations around her safeguarding practices were also raised, including failure to take action in respect of a safeguarding concern and a failure to keep safeguarding concerns private.

While Dr Brereton has admitted that she consumed alcohol whilst pupils were on the site, she has denied all other allegations, including that it was during school hours. 

The panel heard from then-chair of governors, Jonny Edge, who said he thought the drinking began when teachers would stay at school to write newsletters to parents during the Covid lockdown.

"I believe from what I remember that a lot of the conversations with the staff were suggesting that initially drinking had taken place on Friday after school when they were doing the newsletter, but then that had become more regular and started to become earlier," he said.

He said, in line with school policy, alcohol was only to be consumed on school premises at functions and that there was a zero tolerance policy to drinking when pupils were in school. 

The panel heard prior to these allegations arising Dr Brereton had lodged a grievance with governors concerning a confidentiality issue over her pay. 

When asked by Jonathan Storey, representing Dr Brereton, if the grievance was linked to the whistleblowing report, Mr Edge said the two were "unrelated". 

Michael Radford, then-deputy head of the school, alleged that there was one occasion at a sporting fixture at another premises where, due to consuming alcohol, Dr Brereton had been unable to drive the children in the mini bus as planned.

Mr Storey said Dr Brereton did not believe picking up the children was her role on the day.

Dr Brereton was described by Mr Storey as being of "good character" and a "dynamic, visionary leader".

The misconduct hearing continues on Tuesday.