A TEACHER who was sacked for making up evidence after being caught helping a pupil with an exam has been spared a ban from the profession.
Dorothy McLaughlin was dismissed from Monkseaton High School in North Tyneside last year after it emerged she had “inappropriately assisted” a student with an exam and then tried to cover her tracks.
A Teaching Agency disciplinary panel has now found Ms McLaughlin guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct”.
But Education Secretary Michael Gove has declined to ban Ms McLaughlin from teaching in the country’s classrooms, saying it was not in the public interest.
When the exam board, OCR, raised concerns to the school in February last year about annotations found on the student’s information and communication technology (ICT) papers, Ms McLaughlin was allowed to investigate the matter herself.
She then went on to fabricate evidence, including a statement prepared on behalf of the student, which suggested the notes had been made by a private tutor.
The findings state: “It is clear from the evidence that the student’s statement contained reference to a private tutor having annotated the relevant document. Ms McLaughlin clearly played a significant role in this inaccurate and fabricated document being produced.
“Ms McLaughlin would have been well aware at the time of production of this document that the inappropriate annotations on the relevant document were in fact hers. In addition the document produced could have implicated the student as it was inaccurate and, it seems, prepared in his name.”
It report added: “The admitted and proved facts amount to misconduct of a serious nature and demonstrate a significant falling short of the standard of behaviour expected of a teacher.”
The panel ruled that Ms McLaughlin carrying out an investigation into her own work did not amount to unacceptable professional conduct.
It said: “It is clear that the internal workings of the school and previous practice in relation to such matters were such that it was not unreasonable for Ms McLaughlin to proceed on the basis that she should investigate the matter.”
The panel went on to recommend that no sanction should be imposed, as a result of a number of mitigating circumstances.
Ms McLaughlin, who did not attend the recent disciplinary hearing, was described as a “committed teacher” with 15 years’ experience, who was “not supported well by the school’s leadership”.
The panel heard Ms McLaughlin was in poor health due to stress and the school was “suffering a turbulent time” caused by the sudden departure of headteacher, Dr Paul Kelley, and the appointment of an executive head.
Adam Chedburn, executive head at Monkseaton High School, said: “We expect the very highest standards of integrity and professional conduct from all of our staff. If the conduct or actions of a member of staff fall short of those expectations, we will always take immediate appropriate action.
“When concerns were raised about the actions of this particular member of staff, we carried out a full and thorough investigation in line with the school’s staff disciplinary procedures. As a result of that investigation and its findings, this member of staff was dismissed.”