Former Witchford College principal Chris Terry - and former vice principal of Cromwell Community College, Chatteris - banned from teaching for life
PUBLISHED: 12:34 05 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:37 05 December 2018
Former Witchford Village College principal Chris Terry has been banned for life from teaching after the Secretary of State for Education accepted a disciplinary hearing’s conclusion of dishonesty.
The panel found that Mr Terry, 47, has been responsible for acts of dishonesty and “acting without integrity when communicating with pupils and/or parents in respect of examination results”.
The report concluded that parents and pupils had placed their trust in Mr Terry and he in turn “abused that trust, fundamentally underlining the confidence that pupils, parents, future educators and employees place in examination results.”
The Secretary of State says that “allowing for no review period is necessary to maintain public confidence and is proportionate and in the public interest.
“This means that Mr Terry is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England.
“Furthermore, in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against him, I have decided that Mr Terry shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.”
Mr Terry has a right of appeal of to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court within 28 days from the date he was given notice of the order.
A 20 page judgement was handed down today on Mr Terry, who led Witchford for four years until his sudden resignation for ‘personal reasons’ in January. He moved to Witchford from Cromwell Community College at Chatteris where he had been vice principal and before that head of the English department.
The charges against Mr Terry relate to examination results involving two pupils at Witchford.
The first allegation involved ‘unacceptable professional conduct’ over dealing with a parent who contacted him in September 2015 about her child’s exam results.
The principal wrongly told the parents that an updated GCSE English Language was on its way – which he then sent – showing the parents’ daughter had a grade C in GCSE English when this was not the case.
A second parent’s complaint about exam results also resulted in Mr Terry wrongly telling them an amended GCSE certificate was on its way. The hearing heard that Mr Terry “produced a fraudulent print out for pupil B and his family to rely on as evidence that he had achieved a grade C in GCSE English Language when he had no evidence that he had”.
The report says: “Mr Terry has admitted the alleged facts and that they constitute unacceptable professional conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.”
Evidence from the disciplinary hearing indicated Mr Terry initially said he would provide evidence to defend the allegations but this was never produced.
The tribunal’s ‘findings of fact’ detail the failure by Mr Terry to respond to the parents complaints in both instances.
It concluded that the ex principal had “acted with a lack of professional integrity” and noted evidence that he had not told the truth.
Emails between Mr Terry and the parents were shown to the disciplinary panel to support the allegations against him.
In what the panel described as a “statement of agreed facts” Mr Terry admitted that in the case of the second pupil he had falsely amended a Grade D to a Grade C in GCSE English.
Mr Terry “produced a fraudulent print out for Pupil B and his family to rely on as evidence that he had achieved a Grade C in GCSE English Language” when there was no evidence he had obtained that grade.
“The panel considered that the ethical standards of the profession require that the veracity of examination results should be beyond doubt,” says the report.
It concluded that Mr Terry’s actions in misleading pupils and their parents regarding the true examination results demonstrated “a clear lack of professional integrity.”
The hearing’s summary in asking the Secretary of State for a decision, said there was “a strong public interest consideration in respect of the protection of pupils given the serious impact that Mr Terry’s actions have had on the ability of the pupils concerned to re-take their examinations.”
They also said his actions had also had a “serious subsequent effect on their educational progression and future careers”.
The hearing heard from Mr Terry that himself who spoke of his “excellent record” in teaching and how he had “changed the lives of many students”. However the panel noted that he had “not offered any independent evidence to attest this”.
They felt that his actions “were deliberate” and whilst accepting he had a previously good history there had been nothing to support this at the hearing.
“The panel has decided that the public considerations outweigh the interests of Mr Terry,” it concluded. “The persistent and sustained course of conduct of Mr Terry repeated in respect of two different pupils was a significant factor in forming that opinion.
“Mr Terry has expressed regret for the trouble his actions have caused the upset to the families but his brief and superficial response failed to demonstrate any insight as to the serious impact of his actions affecting the lives and careers of Pupil A, Pupil B and their parents and the wider college community.”
The Secretary of State concurred adding: “In my judgement the lack of insight means that there is some risk of the repetition of this
A 2016 Ofsted verdict on Witchford praised Mr Terry- for having “driven improvement with determination and clarity of vision.
“As a result the college’s local reputation has improved and, in turn, the number of pupils has increased.”