Pupils failed class after teacher tampered with coursework

Stephen Knox admitted his actions at St Machar Academy in Aberdeen 'lacked integrity and were dishonest'.

Pupils failed class after teacher tampered with coursework Pixabay

A teacher who caused pupils to fail their National 5 English after heavily editing their coursework without their knowledge has been reprimanded by an education watchdog.

Stephen Knox admitted his actions “lacked integrity and were dishonest” following a General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) fitness to teach hearing.

Between 2017 and 2018, Knox was found to have provided “excessive assistance” to the pupils at St Machar Academy in Aberdeen and failed to ensure the work submitted was their own – contrary to SQA guidelines.

Knox, who was head of the secondary school’s English department, also used Google Classroom to make “excessive amendments” to the pupils’ work.

Three students failed the course due to having to redo their folio pieces in a short space of time, while a number of other pupils obtained results that were below expectations.

There was also evidence that some of the youngsters were upset about their experience of English due to Knox’s misconduct.

Knox blamed his “poor decisions” on deadline pressures and claimed he suffered “stress, low mood and disturbed sleep” as he attempted to balance the role of department head and union rep.

The GTCS handed Knox a 12-month reprimand after concluding that his fitness to teach was impaired but “remediable”.

The panel noted that Knox, who now works at Kemnay Academy in Aberdeenshire, had shown genuine remorse and had taken significant steps to remediate his behaviour.

In a written ruling, which was published last week following the hearing in February, the GTCS stated: “The panel was satisfied that the matter represents an isolated incident in a teaching career spanning 23 years and that there has been no repetition of similar conduct. 

“The panel noted that there is evidence in the form of testimonials attesting to the good character of the teacher. 

“Having regard to all of these factors taken together, the panel concluded that a reprimand was in the public interest and appropriately indicates to the profession and the public the seriousness of the matter at issue, therefore maintaining public confidence in teachers and the teaching profession.”

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