Principal regrets decision to let photographer into school

The Melbourne school principal who allowed photographer Bill Henson to scout for schoolyard models says she would not have done so if there was controversy about his work at the time.

Former St Kilda Park Primary School principal Sue Knight allowed Henson to visit the school in 2007 prior to a national storm over a Sydney exhibition of his photographs in May this year depicting naked children.

When the controversy about the school visit broke last month, Victorian Premier John Brumby declared it "completely inappropriate".

But the Victorian Education Department today said an investigation had cleared Ms Knight and she would not face disciplinary action over the visit.

Ms Knight today said the visit took place over 18 months ago.

"At the time, there was no controversy regarding this particular photographer and his work.

"Had I been aware of any controversy prior to the visit being organised I would not have had the visit occur.

"But I don't have the benefit of hindsight."

Ms Knight said she would not allow Henson on to her grounds at Coburg West Primary where she is now principal, "if it were going to arouse the type of controversy that this one (visit) has".

She expressed relief at the department's decision.

"It gives me the opportunity to focus my energies on my school and my work."

Education Minister Bronwyn Pike said Ms Knight did not work outside department guidelines.

"We do have confidence that we have strong guidelines in place regarding visitor access to our schools but, of course, there's always scope for making sure these are well understood and implemented within our system," Ms Pike said.

Australian Christian Lobby Victorian director Rob Ward said he was disappointed Ms Knight would not be sanctioned.

"If this principal had taken the time to look at Bill Henson's work and seen that it often involved naked children you'd have to ask the question - why would ... (you) want that sort of person wandering through your school grounds?" Mr Ward said.

"We'd love to see stronger guidelines in place."

The Victorian education department wants all schools to publish more refined policies for visitors and talent scouts.

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