Banned: Head who changed Sats papers to retain 'outstanding' rating

25th August 2017 at 12:55
Academy headteacher tried to deflect blame on to colleagues, before later admitting that he had altered the papers, says NCTL panel

A headteacher who changed pupils’ Sats papers to help his school retain its “outstanding” Ofsted rating has been banned from teaching indefinitely.

Alan Prince, 50, was headteacher of Wistaston Church Lane Academy, in Cheshire, when he altered 26 out of 58 mental maths assessments in May 2015.

In a written statement to a professional conduct panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), he said he corrected two to three answers out of the 20 questions, "which could potentially have increased the proportion of pupils achieving a Level 4 or a Level 5 and help maintain the academy's ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating".

However, an NCTL report published today says that, in his oral evidence, Mr Prince said the changes would not have made any difference to the overall outcome. The panel says that when he gave oral evidence, it did not find him to be “either credible or reliable”.

The panel accepts he immediately knew he had done something wrong, and Mr Prince said he "was consumed with guilt and stricken with panic”.

He described the period up to January 2016, when the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) phoned, as “one of immense regret, fear and upset”.

However, he did not admit that he had altered the test papers when the STA investigated, and “suggested other possibilities”.

'Extremely stressful for staff'

After the board of governors commissioned an investigation by Heads UK, Mr Prince suggested that anyone could have gained access to the room where the scripts were stored, which led to “a number of staff going through the ordeal of being interviewed”.

The report says this process “went on for a number of weeks and must have been extremely stressful for all involved”.

Mr Prince later admitted this was a ploy to deflect attention from him.

The panel writes that altering the test papers was “the worst possible example that a headteacher could set the pupils of his academy”.

In mitigation, it notes testimonials and references from parents and colleagues speaking of his commitment to the academy, and saying that he provided “a caring and supportive environment in which pupils were able to flourish”.

But while the panel says that Mr Prince faced “very difficult personal and professional circumstances”, these did not excuse his conduct.

It adds: “As for remorse, the panel is struck by the absence of any genuine apology from Mr Prince for his conduct and for the consequences of his conduct; for example, for his colleagues who were directly affected by it and also the academy's reputation.”

The panel banned him from teaching indefinitely, but allowed him to ask for the prohibition order to be reviewed after two years.

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