Cancer con teacher Ursula Rose kicked out of Hackney secondary school when her criminal past came to light

Cardinal Pole Catholic School, in Morning Lane

Cardinal Pole Catholic School, in Morning Lane - Credit: Archant

A conwoman who once tricked colleagues out of £20,000 by claiming she had terminal cancer was frogmarched out of the Hackney school where she taught when her criminal past came to light.

Ursula Rose was suspended from her job as a special educational needs teaching assistant at Cardinal Pole School on September 25 when a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check revealed her murky past, the Gazette this week reveals.

Rose was initially employed at the school in Morning Lane through an agency, which carried out the initial DBS check three years ago.

But head Jane Heffernan said Rose’s past didn’t become apparent until the school ran its own check weeks ago as part of a standard renewals process.

She was suspended on October 12 for failing to disclose her previous conviction in her application for a permanent post.

She was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for four counts of fraud at Croydon Crown Court in April 2013, to run concurrently, after exploiting friends’ goodwill and telling lies about having six brain tumours.

Her friends and colleagues at St Thomas Becket Catholic Primary School, in South Norwood, jumped to her aid and through a huge fundraising effort between September 2008 and July 2009, they raised £20,000 for her in the belief they were helping to pay for emergency cancer treatment. Some even borrowed money from their own families to help her.

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The fraud came to light when Thomas Becket head teacher Noel Campbell contacted Rose’s doctor, who told him she did not have cancer but suffered from migraine-like headaches.

Lesley Milner, CPS London reviewing lawyer, said at the time Rose had “preyed on the kindness of her friends and [taken] advantage of their sympathy”, in the “appalling case”.

This week Rose told the Gazette how she really is recovering from cancer and had been at hospital that day for treatment.

She described how the incident came “out of the blue” after “a gruelling year of chemo and radiotherapy”.

She said: “It is sad because I love the school and the children and some of the people I’ve been cut off from as they’ve been told not to talk to me. I wanted to be given another chance.”

Ms Heffernan confirmed the school had verified Rose’s cancer status this time around: “Evidence is required from all staff when applying for medical leave or following periods of absence from school, and this had been provided. [...] Appropriate safeguarding checks are carried out on all members of staff without exception.”

A spokesman from Hackney Council said the school will now run its own checks on all members of staff.