Head who resigned in cheat row still inspector

A HEADteacher who resigned following allegations of cheating in national tests is working as a school inspector.

Cynthia Thumwood was head of Hanover primary, Islington, north London, for more than 20 years. The beacon school had an outstanding reputation and impressive national test results, with 90 per cent of pupils achieving the expected level in Year 6.

But in June last year, allegations of irregularities in the administration of the test results led to an investigation by the Government's exam watchdog.

Staff at the school were understood to have raised suspicions with Cambridge Education Associates which took over the borough's education service in 2000.

The initial allegations centred on the maths tests.

But the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority also recalled the papers in English and science. The papers in all three subjects were annulled.

During the same term an investigation was carried out by CEA into financial irregularities at the school.

Ms Thumwood resigned from the school and an interim head was employed.

No disciplinary proceedings were ever brought by the school governors or CEA against the headteacher or any other staff member.

Ms Thumwood is a registered Office for Standards in Education inspector and carried out at least 14 inspections while working at Hanover primary. She is still inspecting schools, now using the surname Messom. She has carried out seven inspections this year.

An OFSTED spokesman said inspectors can be de-registered but there must be evidence that they are no longer a fit and proper person to carry out the job.

Ms Thumwood said she was unable to comment about the accusations of test malpractice or her work as a school inspector.

A statement from the National Association of Head Teachers said Ms Thumwood denied altering any scripts and added: "Allegations of financial mismanagement were made by staff against Ms Thumwood. She produced a detailed written response in which she strenuously denied any improper financial transactions.

"Ms Thumwood was so distressed by the disloyalty of some of her staff and was so hurt by their accusations that she decided to bring her retirement forward from August 2002 to December 2001.

"No disciplinary action has been taken against Ms Thumwood and she continues to deny any wrongdoing."

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