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Teacher did not tamper with tests

A primary teacher who was dismissed amid allegations of altering test papers has been found not guilty of unacceptable professional behaviour.

Amanda Stokell, cleared by the General Teaching Council for England, said she hoped she would be given the chance to pursue her teaching ambitions.

"I've missed both the teaching and the children very much," said the 42-year-old. "I was shocked and devastated to be accused of such a dishonest act."

She was dismissed from Bromstone primary in Broadstairs, Kent, in September 2001, after scripts for key stage 1 maths and key stage 3 English comprehension had apparently been tampered with while pupils were under her supervision.

The GTCE panel of four, sitting in Birmingham, accepted evidence from a handwriting expert that answers had been altered by a third party on some papers.

But it found there was insufficient evidence to prove that Ms Stokell had been that third party and therefore found her not guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

The GTCE heard that two Year 2 pupils aged six and seven sat the maths paper in May 2001.

But when Catherine Winspear, headteacher, marked the papers, it was discovered the pupils had not completed the second part of the two-part test.

The marks the head had already awarded for the first part of the paper, were erased so the two pupils could sit the second part of the paper which was in the same booklet, without discovering their scores.

Mrs Winspear said that when the completed papers were returned five days later a number of answers from the first part of the paper that had previously been marked incorrect had been altered.

A further nine of Ms Stokell's Year 2 pupils also took the more advanced KS3 English comprehension paper.

These were marked by Mrs Winspear who again suggested a number of answers had been changed.

"In my experience of teaching children of six and seven, while checking over answers and altering them is not uncommon, the large number of answers that had apparently been changed did not feel right to me," she said.

Ms Stockell who had taught at the school since 1992 denied accusations she had altered the answers, and suggested to the hearing that the cramped conditions of a medical room, where the exam had taken place, may have meant children had been copying each other's work and had altered their answers accordingly.

"Why should it be doubted that children capable of performing at the same level as nine-year-olds in English, should not equally be as capable of altering their wrong answers?" she asked the hearing.

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