Q) Before he went absent suffering from depression, one of our teachers wrote reports which senior staff have found to be inaccurate and full of grammatical mistakes. Are we obliged to send these out to parents?
A) Certainly not. The obligation to provide parents with reports on progress is imposed upon the school, not upon individual teachers. The ultimate responsibility for what is communicated to parents rests with the head. If he or she is not satisfied with what any teacher, whether ill or not, has written, the necessary changes should be made.
There may be some circumstances where comments are simply not available because the teacher is absent.Parents are entitled to know why this has happened, but no blame should attach to the school, which cannot remedy a situation outside its control.
Q) I was dismissed in 1993 for gross misconduct for helping students to frame answers in a GCSE exam. At the hearing of my case, the head, who had investigated the case, recommended dismissal. Should he act as prosecutor, judge and jury? An industrial tribunal said that I was not unfairly dismissed, although it did not believe that I had encouraged the children to cheat. The LEA reported me to the DFEE, but it has not removed my licence to teach. Have I been treated fairly?
A) If the facts are as you have stated, you were indeed guilty of gross professional misconduct and the head was right to recommend dismissal as the appropriate punishment.
He was not acting as judge or jury: that function was fulfilled by the disciplinary committee and, assuming there was one, by the appeal committee. Whether you encouraged the pupils to cheat is irrelevant: you clearly gave them an unfair advantage over other candidates and corrupted the exam process. It would not surprise me if the exam board insisted you be barred from presenting candidates in the future.
You are obviously having difficulty coming to terms with the seriousness and the foolishness of your conduct. You should understand that teaching is a profession with high ethical standards. You have undermined the trust that pupils, parents and the public place in all teachers and you have paid the proper penalty.
Questions should be sent to Helpline, The TES, Admiral House,66-68 East Smithfield, London E19XY. Fax: 0171-782 3200. e-mail: email@example.com. co.uk