GCSE marks ‘made up’ by school’s head of English

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MORE than 30 children face failing their GCSE English exams this summer after a teacher didn’t set work and falsified grades.

The year 11 pupils at Peele Community College, Long Sutton, have been offered an extension of the deadline to submit controlled assessments in English Language and English Literature to the exam board after the problem came to light in the week leading up to the Easter break.

Marks awarded for the assessments go towards pupils’ overall GCSE grade.

Parents were informed in a letter sent out by headteacher Ian Charles on March 22, which said specialist consultants had been drafted in to help the affected students.

He said the problem had come to light following the resignation of a teacher.

During the handover of her work it became clear that some of the work the students were supposed to have completed was missing.

He said: “We now believe they may not have been asked to do the work. We have the students’ assessment trackers but the work just wasn’t there and we believe the marks were entered on the documents without the students being asked to do the work.”

Although Mr Charles would not confirm the teacher’s identity because he is taking advice about the possibility of disciplinary proceedings, the Spalding Guardian believes it to be the now-former head of English, Tessa Harpham.

She has left to take up a position at the Sirius Academy in Hull where her husband – another former Peele Community College teacher – now works under the leadership of former Peele headteacher Dr Cathy Taylor.

Mr Charles’ letter to parents read: “The college has been misled into thinking that students had all the necessary controlled assessments, completed, accurately marked and moderated ready for submission to the exam board.

“Sadly this is not the case and submission of students’ current available work would result in significant underperformance and possible failure of both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature.”

He went on to apologise for the distress caused and said a detailed recovery plan had been drawn up with assistance from teachers from other schools as well as the Peele’s own English department to offer intensive teaching and support to pupils to ensure they were not disadvantaged.

But one worried grandparent fears it will not be enough as the fortnight Easter break leaves just a couple of weeks to meet the new exam board deadline.

She said: “This is his whole future we are talking about and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“I don’t think this teacher should be allowed to teach ever again. She just seems to have run away and left our children in the lurch.”

Dr Taylor confirmed that Mrs Harpham is starting work for her after the Easter holidays.

She said: “I was not aware of any problems with the controlled assessments but I was aware that when Mrs Harpham told the headteacher she had been successful in gaining a job with Sirius Academy she was escorted from the school and clearly had no time to organise a handover of her work.

“The latest Ofsted showed the school had made significant progress in English and I have no doubts about Mrs Harpham’s abilities.”

Mr Charles denied Mrs Harpham had not been given a chance to organise a handover or that she was escorted from the premises, although he confirmed when she handed in her notice it was with immediate effect and she did not work any notice period.