Teachers 'undermined' child's safety, inquest hears

Shanay Walker Image copyright Nottinghamshire Police
Image caption Shanay Walker was found dead at a house in the Bestwood Park area of Nottingham in 2014

A head teacher and teaching assistant undermined the safety of an abuse victim by failing to pass on concerns, a coroner has said.

Shanay Walker, 7, died of a head injury in July 2014. Her aunt Kay-Ann Morris and grandmother Juanila Smikle were later jailed for child cruelty.

Peter Smalley and Laura Shreeves of Southglade Primary School were criticised by coroner Mairin Casey.

The council said safeguarding practices had since "significantly improved".

Delivering a narrative conclusion, the coroner was particularly critical of a missing safeguarding form being "recreated" by Mr Smalley and Ms Shreeves after Shanay's death - an action she described as "a fabrication" and "self-serving".

She said their actions deflected the attention of other professionals.

Ms Casey said: "It was quite deliberate to have a policy of appeasement towards Kay-Ann Morris over the safety of Shanay and to silence the teachers who knew her best."

Image copyright Nottinghamshire Police
Image caption Kay-Ann Morris and Juanila Smikle were found guilty of cruelty to Shanay in 2015

Shanay was placed in her aunt's care after her mother, Leanne Walker, suffered post-natal depression.

The inquest at Nottingham Coroner's Court had heard social workers were "taken in" by Morris.

However, it was also told 10 safeguarding referrals were made about Shanay by other members of Southglade's staff.

Following the verdict, family friend Janet Lewis said: "The journey does not end here, Leanne still wants justice for Shanay, no-one has been held to account for her death."

Nottingham City Council said safeguarding practices at Southglade had "significantly improved" but further action would be taken with the Board of Governors as some of the school's actions with Shanay had only emerged during the inquest.

Mr Smalley is currently absent from his role at Southglade Primary School.

A Serious Case Review is expected to be published in the near future.

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