A HEAD teacher who was suspended for five months before being told he had no case to answer says he feels sad with the way the matter has been handled.

Geoff Bowles, who was at the helm of Barrowhall Primary School in Great Sankey since 1993, was cleared of any wrongdoing at a hearing before Christmas.

He had been suspended, on full pay, in July by chairman of the governors Cathy Brocklehurst and has now been able to start his retirement.

But the manner of the suspension - which has cost the school £25,000 at least in wages - has left Mr Bowles, aged 60, feeling let down.

He was accused of financial mismanagement by an anonymous whistleblower. All the allegations were thrown out at December’s disciplinary hearing.

He added: “I was convinced that I had not done anything wrong.

“But they were paying me for five months to sit around doing nothing when the decision could have been made earlier.”

He was banned from entering school while suspended, it is understood even teachers were kept in the dark about his absence, and missed out on saying goodbye to parents and the children. Although he was allowed in the school on the last day of term to take his belongings - which has already been boxed up.

“If ever a school was made for someone, that school was made for me.

“It was brilliant to say goodbye to the children and the staff were absolutely great. They have paid for a leaving do for me which means a lot.

“When you work at a school like that and for so long, you become part of the community. And my reputation is more important than anything else to me.”

Mr Bowles, from St Helens, will now begin his retirement and despite the recent problems - he resigned from the governing body in May - he hopes the school continues to grow.

He said: “I wish the new head every success. He is a lucky guy because despite everything that has happened, it is a lovely school and it has given me a lot of fun.”