Invigilator was under pressure to hit unrealistic targets set by local authority, head tells GTC. Oliver Luft reports
A primary teacher has been banned from invigilating exams after being found guilty of helping pupils in their key stage 2 tests.
The General Teaching Council for England found that Nathan Proud, formerly a teacher at Thomas Walling primary, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, had given Year 6 pupils inappropriate guidance and assistance during their maths test in May, 2002.
The GTC conduct committee, in Birmingham, found Mr Proud had made comments to pupils about erasing answers and changing them. However, an allegation that he told pupils the right answers and suggested that they erase wrong ones was not upheld.
Mr Proud said he had instructed the children to rub out incorrect answers first, rather than just writing corrections over the top, so that they would be legible.
Andrea O'Neill, the school's former deputy head, told the hearing that Mr Proud admitted reading through the test papers with the class before the exam. "He admitted this so freely, I'm not convinced that he knew what he was doing was wrong."
Mr Proud also told Ms Helen Walker, the head, that he may have told a pupil to check answers in boxes Y and X, to make sure they had not confused the two.
Ms O'Neill told the committee that the tests guide book, with which Mr Proud should have been familiar, advises against making children think again about answers during the test.
Mr Proud, who was not at the hearing, said pupils had confused the post-exam debrief, where he told them the correct answers, with the tests themselves. The GTC committee felt there was not sufficient evidence to uphold the allegations that Mr Proud had told the pupils answers during the test, or that he had told one pupil to move the decimal point in an answer.
It was persuaded that he had coached the children before the test by reminding them about the internal angles of a triangle.
Ms Walker told the committee that most of the pupils were at the borderline between level 3 and 4. Therefore just a few extra marks could have made a difference to their overall rating.
She said that she believed Mr Proud was under stress to meet unrealistic targets set by the local authority. She said: "He had a challenge on his hands to raise the maths standard in the school. Although I felt he wasn't being proactive, I did everything I could to alleviate his stressful situation."
Mr Proud, who had been a teacher at the 350-pupil school since January 2001, thought he was being bullied by the headteacher, and initiated a formal grievance against her. The day he was suspended he entered the allegation of bullying.
Ms Walker, who now works as a school improvement adviser, said: "I thought: the cheek of it, it was in total response to his suspension." He was suspended from in August, 2002, and sacked for gross misconduct in May, 2003.
Mr Proud was served with a conditional registration order saying he is not allowed to invigilate exams until he has undertaken appropriate training.