An ex-headteacher who admitted to drinking wine on the school premises did not commit professional misconduct, a panel has ruled. 

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

She was accused of drinking alcohol on the school premises during school hours and while children were on-site, storing alcohol in unsecure places, displaying unprofessional behaviour due to alcohol and encouraging a culture of drinking amongst staff.

She was also accused of problems with safeguarding, including a failure to take appropriate action in regards to a pupil and a failure to keep clear documentation of concerns. 

A Teaching Regulation Agency misconduct panel, which began on Monday, has today found the actions of Dr Brereton, who admitted to drinking while children were on-site but denied all other allegations, did not amount to unacceptable professional conduct or conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute. 

The panel found it proven that Dr Brereton had, on one or more occasions consumed alcohol whilst on school premises during school hours and whilst children were onsite.

They also found it was proven that Dr Brereton had encouraged a culture of alcohol consumption amongst staff by offering staff alcoholic drinks and allowing staff to consume alcohol whilst on school premises, during school hours and whilst children were onsite.

However, they deemed it was not proven that the alcohol was kept in an unsecure location or that she displayed any unprofessional behaviour as a result of drinking. 

The panel also found all of the safeguarding allegations were not proven.

Throughout the hearing, Dr Brereton maintained that she never had alcohol in front of children, no more than a bottle would be consumed between staff and she would never have more than two glasses to herself. 

She said the policy concerning alcohol on the premises was "not clear".

She also disputed an accusation that the filing of safeguarding concerns was a "complete mess" and denied the allegation that she encouraged staff not to report safeguarding concerns.

On Thursday, during closing arguments, Sarah Vince, representing the Teacher Regulation Agency, called Dr Brereton's actions "a consistently bad decision and an inappropriate way for her to have allowed the functioning of the school to take place".

Jonathan Storey, for Dr Brereton, said the accusations were "vague" and "unfair".

"She feels a deep sense of personal regret that she didn't appreciate the issues around her and others consumption of alcohol at school," he added.

The panel ruled Dr Brereton's actions did not amount to unacceptable professional conduct and/or conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.