'Junk food for exams' school head banned

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Maths SATs
Image caption,
Head teacher Karen Parker unfairly helped pupils with their tests, the panel heard

A head teacher has been banned from the profession indefinitely after helping pupils cheat in their SATs.

Karen Parker also bought them junk food for motivation and set off a fire alarm during exams at Robert Bruce Middle School in Kempston, Bedfordshire.

Her actions "ultimately led" to the annulment of the school's Year 6 SATs results in May 2015, a disciplinary panel said.

Her assistant head was also found to have "provided assistance" to pupils.

Mrs Parker, 55, who had been head at the school since September 2012, was suspended in July 2015 after an investigation by the Department for Education's Standards and Testing Agency.

The professional conduct panel heard Mrs Parker had given the child answers to mathematical questions "to help him achieve a good grade".

She also provided another pupil with "more assistance than was appropriate", with them receiving the chance to sit at least part of a mental mathematics test twice.

Pressure on staff

Another boy claimed the head teacher bought him KFC, Dominos and McDonald's food "if he took his SATs".

Mrs Parker denied it was a "bribe", but agreed pupils were bought food to motivate them to sit tests.

She also admitted setting off a fire alarm during a Year 8 exit exam, claiming it was not her "finest hour". However, it was not proven she knew pupils were being tested at the time.

Mrs Parker was accused of putting pressure on staff to secure results, warning them they could lose their jobs.

She will be able to apply to have the indefinite teaching ban lifted in two years' time, it concluded.

In addition, the professional conduct panel said her assistant head, newly-qualified Paul Henry, 33, was also found to have "provided assistance to one or more pupils" during the exams.

The panel said he told colleagues: "I'm not asking you to cheat, but am telling you to do everything you can to get them through."

Mr Henry was found in breach of professional standards of ethics and behaviour.

Robert Bruce Middle School - which served pupils aged from nine to 13 years - closed and merged with a business college in November 2015 to become Kempston Challenger Academy.

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