Teacher at Scottish all girls' school admits helping pupils cheat on an exam

A teacher at Scotland's last state girls' school admitted helping pupils to cheat on an exam - but avoided being struck off.

Pupils studying Computing and Business studies at Notre Dame High School in Glasgow were allowed to access a National 5 Administration exam paper, by their teacher Sandra Beaton.

Ms Beaton, who had 27 years experience working as a teacher, admitted the allegations that she provided access to the exam paper for pupils, discussed the contents of the exam paper with pupils; and provided assistance outside of the time slots.

She accepted full responsibility.

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The exam took place over two blocks back in March 27 and 29, 2017.The exam took place over two blocks back in March 27 and 29, 2017.
The exam took place over two blocks back in March 27 and 29, 2017.
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The exam took place over two blocks back in March 27 and 29, 2017.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland's Fitness to Teach Panel found that over the course of the exam - which made up for 100 per cent of the National 5 Administration and IT SQA award - Ms Beaton's conduct was "dishonest" and "lacked integrity".

Exam guidelines stated that it was a "closed book" task, with pupils "unable to access any support materials or be provided with advice by a teacher".

With the assessment being split over two blocks, the SQA expected all papers to be gathered at the end of one block and re-distributed at the start of the next - with pupils not to have access to the papers during the time in between.

However, the tribunal found that Ms Beaton had gone over the paper in advance of the exam - telling pupils to "take note of questions that could be tricky".

She also was found to have given assistance between blocks, giving pupils back their paper in advance of returning to officially finish their assessment, and also provided pupils with a formula to be used during the assignment.

The allegations only came to light when a pupil raised the alarm.

As a result, the pupils had to have their marks regraded and four were interviewed as part of the investigation.

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At least one was said to have been "distressed" by the situation.

In making their decision, the panel considered how Ms Beaton, who was employed by Glasgow City Council, admitted the allegations, adding she had been "subject to considerable personal stress and some professional stress".

She was given a written warning after a local authority disciplinary hearing and subsequently transferred to another school.

However the tribunal still had to determine her fitness to teach.

In their closing remarks, the panel found that Ms Beaton's behaviour "had involved an abuse of a position of trust and that harm had been caused to pupils".

However, it added that the incident was "isolated" in the context of her lengthy career, with no repetition since.

The document said: "The teacher had admitted her conduct at the hearing and that position had been intimated earlier in the fitness to teach process.

"However, the panel did acknowledge the evolution of the teacher's position during the inquiry at school and local authority level when she had not been candid.

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"The panel accepted her explanation that she had panicked and had gradually realized the gravity of the situation.

"The panel also considered the teacher's remorse to be genuine supported not only by what she had said but her demeanour when questioned at the hearing."

The document added: "The panel had already determined that the conduct had involved an abuse of a position of trust and that harm had been caused to pupils.

"However, in the context of a lengthy career the conduct had been isolated and there had been no repetition of the matters at issue since.

"The teacher had also admitted the allegations, had reflected on matters and had exhibited genuine remorse.

"The teacher had also evidenced good character and her present line managers had confidence in her."

A reprimand was recorded in the Register against the teacher's name for a period of two years.

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