Doncaster church school headteacher ‘struck off’ over public exam irregularities

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The headteacher of a Doncaster church school has been ‘struck off’ for irregularities over his school’s national exams.

Russell Hall, who was headteacher at St Oswald’s Church of England Academy, at Finningley, has been banned from the teaching profession for two years, it was revealed today in a report revealing the verdict.

He may be allowed to return after that, if a future application is accepted by his professional body.

A National College for Teaching and Leadership panel heard Mr Hall was the headteacher at St Oswald’s where a class of pupils were taking end of Key Stage two tests, between 12 and 14 May 2014. After each exam, the papers were

collected and delivered to Mr Hall’s office.

It was alleged he did not ensure the security of the papers and he misled the Standards and Testing Agency over the issue of their security.

The Standards and Testing Agency maladministration team carried out an investigation and decided that there was doubt over the accuracy of the children’s test results and annulled them for all subjects for the whole school age group.

The allegations were found proven by the panel.

The hearing was told the papers were supposed to be sealed after the tests and stored securely.

But it emerged in evidence that Mr Hall had gone through papers to see how pupils had done, and shared that information with staff.

It also emerged there was no lock on the cabinet where they were stored.

He signed a document to say he had sent the papers properly in accordance with official rules, and later failed to admit what he had done when an investigation was carried out.

There was no allegation that Mr Hall had altered the completed test papers.

Panel decision maker Jayne Millions said in her report: “The panel was satisfied that the conduct of Mr Hall fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession and this constituted misconduct of a serious nature.

“Mr Hall’s dishonest actions, in failing to secure the papers and seeking to mislead the local authority’s investigation on behalf of the STA, resulted in the test scores of an entire cohort of children being annulled.

“This would have caused significant stress and disappointment to the children, their parents and teachers, and reflected badly on the school and the teaching profession as a whole.

“This was particularly serious given Mr Hall’s role as the headteacher, as, by sharing the information about the children’s scores, he was in breach of the published requirements and he was clearly setting an

unacceptable example to his staff and fellow teachers.

“In the panel’s view, his actions overall had the potential to undermine public trust and confidence in the statutory testing regime.

“In light of all the circumstances set out above, the panel was satisfied that Mr Hall was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.”

She added that the panel was of the view that, whilst Mr Hall’s actions were serious and had a detrimental impact on pupils and the public’s perceptions of the teaching profession, this was a single incident in a long and positive career, at a time of unusually high pressure on him.

Chairman of governors at the school, David Elvin, said: “This was a sorry chapter in the life of an otherwise excellent school. The panel’s judgement affirms the effective action of the governing body.

“The governors have taken the steps necessary to ensure the security of testing arrangements. Governors are nonetheless sorry that children’s tests were annulled.”

The Church of Church of England’s Diocesan Director of Education for the Sheffield diocese, Huw Thomas, added: “The events surrounding the tests of 2014 are most regrettable. However, the governors have taken firm action. Under the leadership of the new Headteacher, who took up post in September, the school is able to move on from these events and build on its successes.”