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Teacher's lies end in four-year ban

General Teaching Council told degree was fabrication. Tara Fawcett reports.

A teacher who lied about her qualifications and experience to get a job has been banned from teaching for four years by the General Teaching Council for England.

Sarah Boylan falsely claimed that she gained an MA in philosophy and religious studies and an MA in medieval studies, when she applied to teach religious education at Brentwood Ursuline Catholic high, in Essex, in 2002.

The GTC heard that Miss Boylan, who was not present during the hearing in Birmingham last week, had also falsely stated on her application form and curriculum vitae that she had taught religious studies full-time in two schools, acting as head of department in one of them.

Helen Penny, head of Brentwood Ursuline, later learned that one school had no record of her and the other employed her as a supply teacher for just one week.

At the hearing Miss Penny said it was a requirement of the school that teachers should possess a first degree in RE or theology. But she made an exception for Miss Boylan, whose first degree was in history, as she had said that her masters degree allowed her to teach RE to A-level standard.

Miss Penny told the hearing that she was dissatisfied with early observations of Miss Boylan's work but gave her a second chance. Miss Boylan started teaching full-time at the school in September 2002, but after only two weeks she took sick leave.

She stayed off work until the end of 2002, when she resigned after learning her qualifications had been questioned.

Miss Penny said: "Miss Boylan was placed in a trusted position which she abused consistently over an extended period. During this time we relied on supply teachers and the head of department had to take on extra work."

Douglas Livingstone, representing Miss Boylan, said she maintained her innocence over her previous employment but accepted that the application form was filled out incorrectly. "At the time of the incident she was suffering from a mental illness and did not know what she was doing," he said.

Delivering the decision, Andrew Barker, the chairman, said: "We have taken into account her medical history, but dishonesty undermines the profession and makes a prohibition order necessary."

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