A science teacher has been accused of compromising his pupils and putting his school at risk of losing its right to run Scottish national qualifications after paying his pupils to complete their work and misleading Scotland’s exam body.
Chemistry and biology teacher Joseph Kyrollos – who has been reprimanded but not struck off as a teacher – was working at a secure unit near Glasgow when he paid money into “various pupils’ accounts” for academic work that had been completed for a biology assessment exercise.
The assessments should have been completed and submitted in September 2015, but were in fact completed retrospectively. However, a General Teaching Council for Scotland fitness to teach panel heard that Mr Kyrollos had assessed his pupils before the written work had been completed and had then attempted to conceal this.
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It also heard that while the school had a pupil reward scheme and applications could be made to what was known as the school’s “homework fund”, the procedure for this was to place money in an envelope and obtain approval from the relevant manager.
In his evidence to the panel, Mr Kyrollos argued that he was trying to help his pupils.
Mr Kyrollos – who said he was now working as a manager at a charity – told the panel that he considered at the time the payments he made to his pupils constituted a homework reward, although he said he now accepted that he should have obtained approval.
The teacher also accepted by passing the pupils before their written work was submitted, he brought the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) system “into disrepute”.
'Volatile' teaching environment
Mr Kyrollos explained he had difficulties in dealing with some pupils who would, on occasion, “lash out”. He was called names and felt intimated, he said, and had been “assaulted on a number of occasions”.
One of his former colleagues – the school’s education manager – said the teaching environment at the school was “difficult” and the atmosphere “very volatile”. There were “often violent incidents” and Mr Kyrollos had contended with some of these, she said.
Another former colleague told the panel pupils were “regularly paid money by staff as a reward” and that there was “no written policy on that”.
The panel found that by asking the pupils to complete work retrospectively Mr Kyrollos had “compromised the pupils and clearly brought the school’s association and relationship with the SQA into conflict”. However, it also concluded this was done “in a misguided attempt to assist the pupils”.
It concluded the allegations were serious and involved dishonest conduct, “albeit not at the higher end of the scale”.
The panel concluded the combination of a reprimand and a three-year conditional registration order (CRO) – in the form of an annual report from his headteacher – would “adequately address the issues”.