Fail turned to pass

8th October 2004 at 01:00
Hearing rules that teacher successfully completed induction year, despite school's verdict. Stephen Lucas reports

A newly-qualified teacher who challenged a decision by her school that she had failed her induction year has been told she can carry on teaching.

Sarah Coyne, who taught at Seathorne primary, Skegness, was told by the General Teaching Council of England at a hearing last week that she had passed.

She had also alleged the school had kept her out of the way during an Office for Standards in Education inspection.

Ms Coyne, 32, had received good induction reports from a previous school, Queen Mary Avenue infant and nursery, Cleethorpes, where she had worked as a supply teacher before going on maternity leave in the spring of 2003.

But she failed to impress Iain Cameron, the head at Seathorne, where she started work the following September, and was told last April that she had failed her NQT year.

Ms Coyne, who has taught 16 to 22-year-olds with Down's syndrome, autism and Asperger's syndrome at Linkage college, Lincolnshire, since June, said:

"I was very relieved at the verdict, but I do not think I will go back into mainstream teaching. It has shattered my confidence.

"I hope it gives other teachers the will to fight if they are in similar situations."

Miss Coyne told the GTC hearing: "I had felt things were going fine up until the Ofsted inspection. They told me I was going on a course and on a visit to a school.

"I realised it was to keep me out of the way. I think I was in shock. I felt they did not approve of my teaching methods."

Miss Coyne said Seathorne had no long-term planning in place, different assistants were assigned to her class every day, and she did not receive the support she needed during her final term.

John Sandfield, Lincolnshire's senior education adviser and induction co-ordinator, said: "Sarah was offered extensive help with her induction, and proper support.

"Seathorne is not an easy school. It is in a deprived social catchment area, and there are serious weaknesses at the school.

"We accept that Sarah's was not an easy class, but records show that behaviour was due in part to some element of teaching."

Tony Woodward, the National Union of Teachers' regional officer for Yorkshire Midland region, who represented Ms Coyne at the hearing, said: "I will be approaching Lincolnshire LEA to discuss the induction programme they offer and whether it could be more effective."

A spokesman for Lincolnshire county council said education officials were "surprised" at the GTC's decision.

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