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Altered coursework leads to two-year ban

Teacher is suspended after he admits submitting exam work that he had tampered with. Becky Sharpe reports

A TEACHER who altered pupils' GCSE coursework has been suspended from teaching in state schools for two years.

In a hearing last week, the General Teaching Council for England found that Mark Lamb had "dishonestly, deliberately and considerably" altered marks, substituted coursework with that of former pupils and added typed written work before it was submitted to an exam board for marking.

The business studies teacher, who was newly-qualified when he joined St Peter's school, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire in 1998, admitted altering five pieces of coursework he had submitted to an exam board in June 2000. The pupils had complained that work returned to them a year later was not theirs.

At the council hearing, David Furniss, headteacher of St Peter's, said that irregularities in coursework had been brought to his attention by pupils and another teacher in July 2001.

"The names of some students had been changed with correction fluid. Marks had also been altered after moderation and then submitted to the exam board," he said. "Pupils who had left school in previous years had their work in the folders of Mr Lamb's pupils."

Mr Furniss said Mr Lamb, who was not present for the hearing, had handed in his resignation not long before the investigation began.

"Names had been changed in handwriting that looked like Mr Lamb's. When I asked him if it was his, he said yes. He said he felt responsible for pupils' shortcomings and wanted to increase their marks."

When Mr Furniss appointed Mr Lamb he said he found him charming and confident.

He added that during his first year Mr Lamb was "a very enthusiastic teacher, always offering to help with extra curricular activities, co-ordinating a young enterprise scheme and running a girls' football team at the school".

But in his second year Mr Lamb's attitude changed. "He was a very laidback person and had a nonchalant personality. He became lazy," said Mr Furniss.

Mr Furniss said that he had told a school that had offered Mr Lamb a job about the coursework allegations when it contacted him for a reference.

Sarah Bowie, chairing the hearing, said: "Mr Lamb dishonestly, deliberately, and considerably altered his pupils' coursework in an effort to make their marks appear higher.

"But the fact that he admitted changing it has been taken into consideration. He will therefore not receive a disciplinary order but a suspension order."

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