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Primary school head teacher Frances Fish found guilty of exam scam

By This is Kent  |  Posted: January 21, 2011

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A PRIMARY school head teacher has been found guilty of "unacceptable professional conduct" after she changed pupils' exam answers.

Frances Fish "extensively and systematically" altered test papers, and some children's entries were declared null and void.

The General Teaching Council's professional conduct committee found Mrs Fish, then head of Shoreham Village School, altered the answers of a number of pupils in May 2009.

After finding her guilty, the committee imposed conditions on Mrs Fish's continuing right to teach, which ban her from managing or administering external examinations, tests or assessments of achievement or attainment.

Mrs Fish, head teacher at the school from January 1, 2007 until her resignation on August 31, 2009, was responsible for administration and management of the Key Stage 2 tests, taken by Year 6 pupils.

The Qualifications Curriculum Authority (QCA) launched a probe after a marker identified concerns that answers on some of the pupils' scripts appeared to be by another hand.

"Prior to the arrival of the QCA investigation team at the school, Mrs Fish admitted that, while waiting for two pupils who had received additional time to finish their tests, she had altered the answers on a number of papers."

She changed answers on 32 papers, on subjects including English reading, English spelling, science, maths and mental arithmetic.

As a result, the QCA's maladministration committee declared the results null and void.

Mrs Fish claimed she was under personal stress at the time and the school was experiencing numerous difficulties.

The committee said: "Altering test papers falls short of standards expected of a registered teacher and breaches standards of propriety expected of the profession.

"Notwithstanding your personal mitigation and positive testimonial evidence, this was unacceptable.

"The committee was concerned about the extent to which a number of individual pupils were affected by your conduct.

"The tests were the basis on which the school and its community were judged nationally."

Mrs Fish, who spent time travelling but has now returned to teaching, will still be allowed in the classroom – but cannot hold a senior position or be involved with any external exams.

The committee stated: "You have continued to teach and your classroom abilities been praised by your current head teacher."

Mrs Fish must not manage or administer external examinations, tests or assessment of achievement or attainment for the next two years and must inform all current and future employers of this condition.

She can appeal to the High Court within 28 days of Tuesday's hearing.

Mrs Fish, of Zambra Way, resigned prior to the beginning of the September 2009 academic year.

Current head teacher Emma Pape said: "This incident happened 18 months ago and the school has moved on. As the new head teacher, I am delighted to lead a dedicated team of staff and we are absolutely committed to providing the children with the best education and care.

"This is supported by a recent Ofsted inspection which said the school was good, with outstanding features."

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