St Patrick's High School, Keady: Arrest over 'harassment' letters

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

image source, Geograph
image captionAllegations about cheating in some GCSE exams in St Patrick's High School, Keady, emerged late last year

A man has been arrested during a police investigation into "letters of harassment" sent to staff at a County Armagh school, BBC News NI has learned.

The PSNI confirmed he was arrested on 24 September on suspicion of offences including harassment and intimidation.

He has since been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Letters purporting to come from some staff at St Patrick's High School in Keady were also sent to others not employed by the school.

'Exam cheating'

For instance, a threat was also made in writing to a staff member at Northern Ireland's exams body, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA).

A CCEA investigation had previously found evidence of exam cheating at the school.

BBC News NI understands that 16 staff at the school had potentially faced sanctions from CCEA over exam malpractice - nine teachers and seven classroom assistants.

However, it is understood that 14 staff eventually received sanctions regarding the monitoring of exams and assessment - the majority from the lower end of the sanctions scale.

Sanctions can include a written warning, further training or conditions being applied to future involvement in exams.

It is unclear how many of the 14 staff who received sanctions were teachers and how many were classroom assistants.

It is up to the school's board of governors if any will face disciplinary action.

CCEA said it did not comment on individual malpractice cases.

"As part of any examination series, CCEA works with centres and monitors examination arrangements in place to ensure that no learner is advantaged or disadvantaged," a spokesperson said.

"We will continue monitoring arrangements until we are satisfied."

The chair of the St Patrick's High School's governors, Dr Eoghan Fearon wrote to parents of pupils on Thursday to tell them that arrangements for exams at the school had been updated.

"The principal, Dr Moore, will continue to work very closely with CCEA and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) to ensure the complete integrity of all our public examination processes and procedures," he said.

"We want to thank you the parents and guardians of our pupils for your patience and understanding during what has been a difficult time for our school community."

CCMS chief executive, Gerard Campbell, said the school had made substantial progress over the past year.

"CCMS welcomes the open and engaging way in which the governors, leadership and staff of St Patrick's High School have worked together to address the issues identified by CCEA in its review," he said.

"It is important to pay tribute to the commitment of the staff who have worked so hard to deliver such significant progress over the past year."

Related Topics

More on this story