Sex offender head teacher ‘ran class with terror’

Neil Foden
Neil Foden has been described as a bully by former pupils and colleagues [BBC]

The “worst kind of bully” who “ran the class with terror” is how a sex offender headmaster was described by former colleagues and pupils.

Neil Foden was seen as one of the most progressive education leaders in Wales while head of Ysgol Friars in Bangor, Gwynedd, and strategic head of Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle, Penygroes.

But the 66-year-old from Old Colwyn in Conwy county will be sentenced after being found guilty of 19 charges relating to four girls.

Judge Rhys Rowlands described him as an “arrogant, controlling individual used to getting his own way”.

Foden had been a prominent member of the NEU teachers’ union, and was used to the media spotlight.

In 2020, he was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct after allegations of bullying.

Then in 2021, his name was in the headlines after he threatened to deny school meals to pupils who were 2p in debt.

The following year, a video was widely circulated online appearing to show him grabbing a pupil.

"Once Neil Foden pushes his way into your life, he won't let go," said former maths teacher Morfudd Mill, 67.

"He takes over your life. Nobody has the right to do that.”

Ms Mill, who worked at Ysgol Friars for almost 30 years, described Foden as "the worst kind of bully anyone could imagine".

She believed Foden conspired against her for years, and he dismissed her from her role twice.

While she won an appeal and was allowed to return to the school, she gave up the career she loved in 2009, because of how difficult he made things for her.

"If I had stayed, I wouldn't be here talking to you now," she said.

Ysgol Friars
Neil Foden was in the media regularly during his time as head master [BBC]

But Foden continued his campaign against her, making accusations even after she left, she said.

"I've lost everything, I even lost my family in order to protect them."

Despite his effect on her life and mental health, Ms Mill says she never would have thought Foden would be capable of the offences he was found guilty of.

The complainants described Foden driving them to remote lanes to “have a play”, calling one his “little sex toy”, while there was a pair of purple and black lace handcuffs with one of the girls’ DNA on in the boot of his car.

"He was a father, he was a head teacher. How could he? I couldn't believe it," Ms Mill said.

Another member of Ysgol Friars staff, who did not want to be named, said he was a person who “liked to throw his weight around”.

They described an uneasiness among colleagues, adding: “If you gave your opinion on something that went against the vision he had, it wouldn't be good for you.”

Foden taught Geraint Edwards, from Bethesda, at Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen in the mid-1980s, and he said he was a bully back then.

"He got away with so much," he said.

"The other teachers were afraid of him too, they didn't step up and say anything about it.

"He'd grab you by the neck and shove you against the wall."

Another former pupil, who did not want to be named, described Foden gripping his tie with his fist, pushing him, and said he was “a dirty man, a cruel man, and he got away with it for years”.

Others, whose names have been changed, include Peter, from Bethesda, who added: “He ran the class with terror.

"He grabbed me around the neck and put his thumb right into my neck until I choked.

"After grabbing my neck, he rammed me against a brass (door) handle which scratched my back."

Vicky, also from Bethesda, described Foden making the lives of her and her brother hell, adding: “I moved school because of him.”

Judge Rowlands said Foden is facing a long prison sentence.

He will be sentenced on 1 July at Mold Crown Court.