AN education authority has been criticised for not knowing how many teachers have been investigated for sexual misconduct.

Local educational authority Blackburn with Darwen Council said all investigations regarding the teachers they employ have been passed onto private human resources companies.

It comes as Lancashire County Council revealed a review of allegations saw 21 prosecutions of teachers over five years.

The county council, which oversees all East Lancashire state schools but not those in Blackburn with Darwen, also suspended 40 teachers while investigations were underway.

A total of 19 dismissals of teachers from their jobs were also carried out across Lancashire’s 617 schools.

The figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information act relating to allegations of sexual abuse including inappropriate touch, activity with a child and inappropriate relationships in the past five years.

However Blackburn with Darwen Council was unable to provide figures because it no longer oversees the HR facility in many schools. It said the responsibility for staffing issues lay with each school.

The situation was described as the ‘beginning of the end’ for the educational authority by the NUT. Blackburn with Darwen Council’s opposition leader Mike Lee said: “This is very worrying and quite surprising.

“I think it is a real concern we can’t get an answer on how many children are affected. It is something we should know and we should more closely at the system.”

Simon Jones, Blackburn with Darwen NUT representative said: “Because so many schools have left the local authority to be free schools, this leaves the system weak and fragmented. This is the start of Armeggedon for the days of a Local Education Authority with a capital A. It’s just one of the many things we are losing overall control of under the new school systems.”

A spokeswoman for Children’s Services at the council, said schools held the figures and should also involve the council’s dedicated officer in investigations.

She said: “Staffing issues in school are the responsibility of the governing body, and this responsibility is discharged by the headteacher.

“Where there is an allegation of abuse against anyone working with children or young people the Local Authority Designated Officer should be contacted immediately.

“The LADO will investigate whether a teacher or other member of staff has behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates that he or she would pose a risk if they work regularly or closely with children.”