Primary school teacher guilty of misconduct after altering exam grades

A primary school teacher has been found guilty of misconduct after altering exam grades for her pupils.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 5:00 am

Jennifer Wallington, who was a popular teacher at Malcolm Sargent Primary School in Stamford, and was ‘adored’ by many youngsters - but she has now been banned from the classroom after she admitted changing hundreds of exam marks, and even amended pupils’ answers.

A tribunal heard she had started work as a teacher at the school in 2016, having previously been a teaching assistant at Malcolm Sargent.

She was teaching Year 3 pupils in March 2019, when it was noticed that a significant number of marks appeared to have been altered on a number of pupils’ assessment papers. It was alleged that Mrs Wallington had altered the marks.

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She was suspended in April, before being dismissed for gross misconduct later in the year.

The tribunal was told Mrs Wallington admitted that she had altered marks on the Key Stage 2 tests after those tests had been marked by three other individuals.

Mrs Wallington admitted she had inserted answers where pupils had left blank answers and that she had written over pupils’ original answers after those original assessments had been marked. By using a pencil to complete those changes, Mrs Wallington accepted that she was trying to conceal the alterations that she had made.

In total, Mrs Wallington admitted to making 333 changes to the original marks given to the Year 3 pupils in maths and English tests.

The tribunal heard that in an email to the presenting officer, Mrs Wallington said: “After burying my head in the sand for far too long, I’ve made the decision to admit my wrong doings, hoping that it isn’t too late to finally allow myself to admit my grave mistake of changing some of the children’s marks.

“I wish I had had the strength and courage to admit my mistake straight away, but once I had gone forward with denying I was just too embarrassed and mortified at myself to admit my failings! I can’t apologise enough for not being honest with my ex colleagues and in turn the children who I loved and respected dearly and their parents.”

In the report following the tribunal, the panel said: “In the panel’s view, it was clear that the public would not expect or tolerate a teacher dishonestly amending and upgrading the test results of pupils. The panel considered that

schools, teachers and pupils who had kept to the examination rules would themselves feel cheated by such actions and this would undermine confidence in the credibility of the examination system.

“The panel also took account of the uniquely influential role that teachers can hold in pupils’ lives and the fact that pupils must be able to view teachers as role models in the way they behave. The panel found that Mrs Wallington had not acted as a role model in respect of the proven allegations. The panel considered that if pupils were aware of Mrs Wallington’s actions, this could set a bad example to pupils as it could suggest to those pupils that it is acceptable to cheat.”

The panel heard from Mrs Wallington’s former colleagues, who said she had been a valued member of the team.

One person said: “During these two years that I worked alongside Jennifer, I cannot fault her teaching or her attitude to her career.”

While another said; “Many of the children in her class adored her and she was a valued member of our team.”

A third person added: “I witnessed many parents thanking Jennifer for her work with their children, commenting that they were happily talking about school at home and the fact that they no longer dreaded coming to school. Jennifer’s approach towards teaching was very pupil centred, she would always encourage the children to learn in ways that suited their personalities, passions and strengths.”

Parents also praised her, with one saying: “Due to Mrs Wallington, our faith has been restored in Malcom Sargent School,”

On behalf of the secretary of state, a decision to prohibit Mrs Wallington from working as a teacher for an indefinite period was taken.

There is a two year review period, after which she can apply for the order to be set aside.