Colleen McCabe

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Colleen McCabe (born 1952) is a former British schoolteacher, schoolmaster and religious sister, who embezzled £500,000 from the school where she worked.[1]

Early years[edit]

From 1974-89, McCabe was a religious sister with the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. After 15 years she decided to become a teacher, and joined St John Rigby School where she was made headteacher in 1991.[2]

Before her extravagant spending, she was praised as a headmistress for her strong discipline in the school and for improving the school's facilities. She made the school grant-maintained in 1995, thus allowing the head to have complete control over the school's budget having received the permission from the school's governors.[citation needed]


McCabe lavished money from the budget on clothes, shoes, jewellery, trips, takeaways and wine for the governors' meetings, champagne receptions and three holidays to Malta.

This was achieved with cutbacks, including:

  • using her pupils and contract cleaners for cleaning
  • shutting down the school heaters
  • asking children to work with old textbooks and computers
  • sacking, or underpaying, teachers.


McCabe was convicted of all eleven charges of theft and six charges of deception. She was originally jailed for five years, but this was dropped to four years on appeal. She was later released after serving half of her sentence.[2]


McCabe was portrayed in 2006 by Pauline Quirke in the BBC Two docu-drama The Thieving Headmistress.[3]


  1. ^ BBC report – Spending spree head jailed,; accessed 28 November 2006.
  2. ^ a b "Fraudster falls ill on day she is due in court";; accessed 29 November 2006.
  3. ^ "Headteacher's role in TV drama-documentary",; accessed 28 November 2006.

External links[edit]