A DEPUTY headteacher of a school made famous by the Educating Yorkshire TV series has been barred from the classroom after a misconduct panel found that she repeatedly altered student attendance records to make them look better.
Beverley James was found to have carried out unacceptable professional conduct by deliberately changing the records so that they were inaccurate or misleading while she was an associate deputy head at Thornhill Academy, in Dewsbury.
A National College for Teaching and Leadership misconduct panel also found that in doing this she had acted dishonestly.
It has banned her from working as a teacher indefinitely but she can apply to have this order lifted in five years.
Mrs James, who did not attend the panel hearing, had denied the allegations and said that any changes she made to the records were legitimate.
However the panel said it accepted the evidence of a witness from the school who had investigated the matter and found that inaccurate changes had been made.
It highlighted one pupil’s record for a day in September 2014, which was changed from being on an authorised absence for illness to being on an educational visit.
When this was investigated records show there was only one school trip on the day and this pupil had not been on it.
The panel also highlighted eight other changes to the record which when checked were found to be inaccurate.
The panel was told that allegations dating between September 2014 and March 2015 were raised by a whistleblower and investigated by the school.
Mrs James attended a school disciplinary meeting in June, last year, in which she denied the allegations.
Just under a month later she resigned from the school.
The panel said evidence showed she made around 600 changes to the school’s information management system between September 2014 and March 2015.
It said it rejected Mrs James’ suggestion that someone else might have made amendments while she left her computer logged on and unattended.
In finding that she had acted dishonestly the panel said it noted her denial of the allegations and her claim that she had not “falsified information”.
However it said she that had strategic responsibility for improving the school attendance records and “would have had a desire to demonstrate” an improvement.
It added that it was significant that the “overwhelming majority of changes made by Mrs James had a positive impact on the overall impression of attendance levels”.
The panel’s findings said: “In the circumstances the panel is satisfied that Mrs James knew that her actions were dishonest.”
It has decided to bar her from teaching but has allowed for this to be reviewed in five years. It said this was acting against guidelines.
It added: “The panel considers that there is strong evidence of Mrs James’ competency as a teacher, and in the panel’s view it would be against the public interest to deprive the profession permanently of a teacher who is held in such high regard and who, after dedicating at least 26 years to the profession, still loves teaching.
“Further, the panel is mindful that a prohibition order is not intended to be punitive and considers that Mrs James should be given the opportunity to re-enter the profession in the future should she wish to do so, having reflected on her actions and demonstrated an insight into their consequences.”
Mrs James had worked at the school since 1990 when she was appointed as an art teacher.
In 2007, the then headteacher gave her responsibilty for attendance, safeguarding and child protection.
Thornhill Community Academy became famous three years ago when it appeared on the award-winning television documentary series Educating Yorkshire on Channel 4.