Social media: 17 teachers banned for relationships with pupils
More teachers than ever before have been banned for engaging in relationships with pupils after interactions on social media.
Last year, Schools Week reported that the number of banning orders for inappropriate use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, had doubled.
Now, a year later, it has doubled again. Eighteen teachers appeared before the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) for having relationships with pupils, some sexual, and for pursuing that relationship through social media. Seventeen were banned; in one case no order was made.
Exam malpractice: key stage 2 tests changed after completion
There has also been a substantial increase in the number of teachers, mainly senior and middle leaders, accused of some form of exam malpractice.
Most of the cases involved key stage 2 (KS2) tests taken by year 6 pupils: teachers were found to have changed tests after completion or to have given unauthorised extra time.
In one case involving GCSEs, Simon Young, the head of music at Bartholomew School, an academy in Oxfordshire, allowed pupils to record their practical music exams outside school and without supervision. Ten pupils were later denied their music GSCE.
(Update: In 2022, on the recommendation of a misconduct panel, the education secretary set aside Young’s ban after he demonstrated genuine insight and remorse for his actions and a clear commitment to adhere to all obligations under the Teachers’ Standards on the ban lifting.)
All nine cases this year were proven, although only two thirds resulted in a ban. In 2013/14, all teachers charged with exam malpractice were banned.
One in three teachers this year can return to the classroom if a school is willing to employ them.
Government agencies last year increased their investigations into exam malpractice. In 2013, the Standards and Testing Agency carried out 438 investigations into alleged maladministration at KS2, a 27 per cent increase from the previous year.
Religion: “Trojan Horse” investigation dominates hearings
Perhaps the most reported disciplinary hearings of recent times stem from the current investigation into teachers and senior staff in schools at the centre of the alleged “Trojan Horse” plot.
The 10 teachers are from either Park View, Nansen Primary or Golden Hillock schools in Birmingham, all formerly run by the Park View Educational Trust.
They deny allegations relating to “the inclusion of an undue amount of religious influence at the schools”.
The outcome of the hearings is likely to take some time to be published, and the hearings are expected to go on until Christmas.
In May this year, a religious studies supply teacher, the Revd Robert West, at Walton Girls’ High School and Sixth Form in Lincolnshire, was indefinitely banned from teaching for making derogatory remarks about non-Christian faiths.
He told an AS-level class: “I assume you are all Christians”, “any Non-Christian God is demonic”, “Muslims worship the devil” and “there is one god and if not worshipping him, then you are worshipping the devil”.
Transparency: 70 per cent of hearings public
In 2013/14, 45 per cent of hearings were held in private – and only 55 per cent in public.
This year public hearings increased to 70 per cent bringing a welcome sense of transparency.
The figures come as part of an ongoing collation of data by Schools Week into the outcomes of each NCTL hearing published over the past 12 months.
The NCTL does not publish any overall analysis of its decisions.
Update, November 2023: This piece was updated to explain Simon Young’s ban had since been set aside.