Head inflated roll call for cash

2nd July 2004 at 01:00
A headteacher who added non-existent pupils to her school roll to receive extra money from the local education authority has become the first teacher to receive a reprimand from the General Teaching Council for Wales.

At a GTCW hearing last month, Coleen Jones, former head of Tref-y-rhyg primary, in Tonyrefail, near Porth, was found to have falsely inflated pupil numbers for official records, listing children who had already left the school, along with pre-nursery children who had not yet joined. She is the first headteacher to have appeared before the GTCW.

In its report, the GTCW stated: "This misrepresentation of pupil numbers had led to the school receiving funding to which it would not have been entitled had accurate numbers been reported."

Ms Jones added 11 non-existent pupils to her roll. As the LEA, Rhondda Cynon Taf, spends pound;2,219 per pupil per year, this represented a substantial increase in the school's annual budget. Her misconduct was first reported two years ago after she announced at a staff meeting that the education of phantom pupils was to become official school policy.

Steve Jenkins, Wales officer for the National Union of Teachers, said:

"Staff came to us because they knew something was awry."

The union reported Ms Jones to the local authority, which conducted a full investigation. This resulted in her dismissal. The authority then referred the case to the GTCW. Two members of teaching staff testified against Ms Jones, and other staff also gave evidence. At Ms Jones's request, the case was heard in private.

Mr Jenkins believes that staff will be satisfied with the outcome of the case. He said: "A serious act of misconduct has been brought to the attention of future employers. It's only right that this should be in the public domain."

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