The head 'who cared too much'

HEADTEACHER Helen Quick has been told she can return to teaching despite admitting that she altered her pupils' test papers to meet government targets - but it is unclear whether she ever will.

The 47-year-old resigned last year as head of Wyndham primary, Newcastle, after confessing to correcting answers in some maths and science papers.

A General Teaching Council disciplinary panel said she had a "long, dedicated and exemplary" record and last week she escaped being struck off the teaching register.

The panel, which heard Ms Quick was under pressure to meet targets, issued a reprimand which will stay on her file for two years. It is the most lenient measure available.

Ms Quick, who was diagnosed with work-related stress, did not attend the day-long hearing, and is now working in an education environment, but not teaching.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority quashed the maths and science results of 65 pupils.

Three weeks after altering the papers Ms Quick confessed to John Heslop, regional officer for the National Association of Head Teachers. He said she told him she had spotted an error, altered it and "just kept on going".

She handed her resignation in to Phil Turner, Newcastle's education director, soon afterwards. He said she looked "dazed beyond belief".

"Wyndham was by no means an easy school. Ms Quick had total commitment. I think that was part of the problem, that she cared too much about it," he said.

She joined Wyndham primary in 1995, where the previous headteacher had retired because of work-related stress, after 10 years as head of the city's Broadwood infants school.

In 1998, the Office for Standards in Education said the school had serious weaknesses. A year later, it warned Wyndham faced being put into special measures.

By 2000, Ms Quick was putting in 80 to 90 hours a week. She even went into work on Boxing Day and did not take a day off in her seven years at the school.

The school was taken out of serious weaknesses in 2001, but inspectors said that standards were still not high enough.

Mr Heslop said: "Raising the school's game had become an obsession with Ms Quick.

"Heads throughout England find national tests and league tables a source of stress and distress. In her state Ms Quick was unlikely to be making rational judgments."

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