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Teaching council suspends cheat

A woman jailed after she stole GCSE papers to give to pupils before their exam has been suspended from teaching.

The General Teaching Council for England heard that Farzana Akbar had been convicted of theft and jailed for three months after she pleaded guilty to stealing five GCSE papers from Archbishop Lanfranc school in Croydon, south London.

She photocopied the Edexcel papers and used them at Headstart Education, her private tutoring college.

Mrs Akbar, 47, from New Malden in Surrey, became the first teacher to be jailed for stealing exam papers. She was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court in south-west London, in September.

A police raid on Headstart, in Merton, south London, last June found pupils working on a paper that was to be taken by children nationwide the following day.

Mrs Akbar resigned from the school, where she had been teaching for 13 years, and the tuition college has since closed down.

She was not present at the GTCE hearing in Birmingham on Monday, but admitted through her representative, Judith Emmet, that she had been guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

Some of the mitigating evidence was given in private because of its "personal nature".

"She has always accepted her wrongdoing, for which she feels nothing but remorse," said Ms Emmet. "She fully accepts that there will be a sanction imposed against her, but hopes that it will be one that allows her to continue teaching."

Andrew Barker, chairman of the panel, suspended Mrs Akbar from practisng as a teacher for three months. He said her action had seriously undermined trust in the exam system and fell short of the standards expected of those registered with the council.

But he said the order had "taken account of Mrs Akbar's previous unblemished teaching record".

Mrs Akbar's eligibility for re-registration with the GTCE in three months will depend on producing a medical report that says she is fit to return to full-time teaching.

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