Teacher banned for giving pupils answers during Sats test

Children's key stage 2 reading test results annulled after similarities were found between pupils' answers at a Merseyside primary

Helen Ward

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A teacher who told pupils the answers during one of the Sats tests has been banned from teaching for at least five years.

Joseph Giblin, 49, a former teacher at Thomas Gray Primary in Sefton, Merseyside, accepted that he may have provided assistance “over and above” what was appropriate while invigilating 13 Year 6 pupils taking the reading paper, but denied providing the answers to any questions, according to a report from the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).

Mr Giblin said that similarities in the answers pupils gave were down to his teaching method, which involved drilling pupils in how to answer questions.

But a professional conduct panel of the NCTL decided that “the answers given went beyond good preparation. For those questions when a range of correct answers could be given and each pupil made the same selection, we felt this could only have happened by Mr Giblin’s involvement in providing the answers”.

'Undeniable similarities' in answers

The panel also pointed out that, for one question, eight pupils in the group of 13 answered using the same word, even though this word was not in the exam paper.

"The documentary evidence showed undeniable similarities between the answers and phrasing used by Mr Giblin's pupils that could only have occurred if he had provided the answers," the report stated.

The panel heard that the allegation against Mr Giblin had been made soon after the test in 2015. The initial investigation carried out by the headteacher, after seeking advice from HR and the local authority, was a  “general chat” with a few pupils.

The headteacher carried out a more detailed questioning of the pupils the following day, which was when children alleged Mr Giblin had provided answers to them.

The results of the exams that Mr Giblin invigilated were annulled by the Standards and Testing Agency, after an investigation.

The panel said that Mr Giblin had denied the allegations and had not shown remorse or insight into his actions. But it accepted that the incident was out of character and that his headteacher considered him to be an excellent teacher.

The incident was a one-off event, with no planning involved, and there seemed to be no direct benefit for Mr Giblin from his conduct, the panel said.

These factors meant that Mr Giblin would be given the chance to apply for the ban to be lifted in five years’ time. The panel’s recommendations for a ban with a five-year review period were agreed by the education secretary.

A previous study by Education Datalab into teacher assessments of seven-year-old pupils found that teachers in primary and junior schools may depress scores, which would enable schools to improve their value-added results at the end of key stage 2.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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