Three academy leaders found guilty of serious misconduct over an off-rolling scandal have avoided teaching bans.
The Teaching Regulation Agency said a factor in its decision was a more than two-year delay in the hearing beginning for the staff at Samuel Ward Academy, in Suffolk.
Prestoe admitted instructing others to off-roll low-achieving pupils in 2015 and 2016, while Stalker admitted involvement in choosing which pupils to off-roll between 2013 and 2016.
The panel found Lay, also CEO of the trust of the same name, knew off-rolling had taken place in 2014 but “turned a blind eye”.
However, the TRA panel concluded no prohibition order was the “proportionate and appropriate response”.
The case was first listed for July 2019, and the panel accepted the “longer the threat of prohibition order is hanging over a teacher’s head the more severe such a sanction will be”. The case was referred to the TRA in May 2018.
Judgments for all three stated the “publication of the adverse findings … was sufficient to send an appropriate message to the teacher as to the standards of behaviour that are not acceptable”.
This would “meet the public interest requirement of declaring proper standards of the profession”.
The panel also considered testimony in support of the three staff, and took into account their remorse and “insight into professional failings”.
For instance, Lay stated: “I fully accept this is to my shame and I am truly sorry for this cowardly and negligent decision.”
The TRA panel cleared Lay of claims relating to exam malpractice, despite the TRA’s lawyer alleging a “culture of cheating”.
It found Stalker breached exam rules, and Prestoe had failed to report malpractice to an exam board.
The panel said the practice of off-rolling was “wholly unacceptable” and “tarnished the professional reputation” of Lay.
“Part of that reputation was founded on the outstanding ratings that the School had achieved and had maintained,” the ruling stated.