Grade guess teacher to stay in class

16th July 2004 at 01:00
A head of drama who gave her pupils marks without seeing their GCSE coursework and failed to submit any written work to the examining body has been allowed to continue teaching.

The General Teaching Council for England said that Claire Heseltine, who was dismissed from St Bede's comprehensive inter-church school in Cambridge in July 2003, will not be able to perform any duties above that of a normal classroom teacher and must submit termly reports to the GTC.

The disciplinary committee heard that Miss Heseltine filled in a mark sheet for the students before some of the work was even handed in and based all of her marks on an estimation of what she thought they would get.

As none of the coursework for her lessons ever reached the examiners, all of the GCSE drama grades for that year had to be based on predicted grades.

Presenting officer Graham Shaw said that Miss Heseltine had undermined confidence in the examining system and the school by making up the grades and for failing to submit the coursework to the examining body by the deadline of May 2 2003.

"In failing to do her professional duties she seriously let down her pupils," said Mr Shaw.

Jan Hunt, headteacher, said: "There was ample opportunity for her to say 'I am in a mess, I have not got the coursework together' but she didn't."

Miss Heseltine, who started teaching at the school in 1999, admitted the allegations but said her behaviour at the time was a result of the onset of a depressive illness caused by pressure at the school.

She added that she found the administrative side of her role very difficult.

Her former colleague Mark Neighbour said she changed dramatically from a lively teacher to a quiet and withdrawn person at the start of 2003.

He said: "Throughout the procedure of the discipline case against her at St Bede's it became apparent that she was the victim of far too swift a rise to responsibility at the school."

The committee heard that Miss Heseltine had undergone a course of therapy after her initial suspension and had learnt to express her feelings.

Miss Heseltine is now working part-time at Sawtry community college in Cambridgeshire.

James Stewart, her headteacher, had known about her situation. He said:

"Claire has taken responsibility for a challenging tutor group and established a very good relationship with her students."

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