Exam cheat vicar and teacher shame

Chaplain Paul Lock
Chaplain Paul Lock

A former Wigan vicar and teacher gave his pupils a second chance at taking their reading tests in a bid to boost results, a disciplinary hearing was told.

Fellow staff of Rev Paul Lock, the former priest at Beech Hill St Anne’s and latterly head of Willow Tree Primary in St Helens, reported him to watchdogs after last summer seeing him breach strict rules governing “one chance only” phonics screening for national Key Stage One assessments.

An investigation was launched, the entire year’s phonics tests results were annulled and Rev Lock quit his post three months later.

The National College of teaching and Leadership (NCTL) panel heard his case in Coventry and said that Rev Lock had fallen “significantly short of the standards expected of the profession”.

Rev Lock was accused of and admitted to wilfully failing to comply with national curriculum assessment administration guidance, unprofessionally rescreening children at the school, undermining its existing testing regime, and in doing so acted dishonestly.

The hearing was told the tests were administered by Mr Lock and Willow Tree’s deputy headteacher. On June 18 last year, the deputy headteacher, the school’s learning manager and a teacher observed Mr Lock undertaking further phonics screening in a corridor of the school. The following day the deputy and learning manager contacted St Helens Council to inform them of their concerns regarding Mr Lock’s conduct and the administration of the tests and an inquiry was launched.

NCTL head of teacher misconduct Jayne Millions acknowledged that Rev Lock had said he was suffering from stress and anxiety at the time, but he had not produced any medical evidence to back this up, neither was there any evidence that he was acting under duress.

She added: “The serious impact that Mr Lock’s conduct had on pupils and the school was a significant factor in forming that opinion.

“Mr Lock’s actions fundamentally affected the education of pupils by undermining the integrity of the testing regime. It is axiomatic that the public should have faith in the teaching profession and the important role played by a headteacher.”

Rev Lock can challenge the decision in the High Court.