A headteacher has been banned from the profession indefinitely after being caught on video helping pupils cheat in exams. 

Malcolm Drakes was headteacher at Mead Primary School and Broadford Primary School in Harold Hill, before stepping down from the role in December 2018 by mutual agreement. 

Both schools are rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, with Broadford previously winning the primary school of the year and the overall school of the year awards at the 2017 Times Educational Supplement (TES) Schools Awards.

Mr Drakes appeared before a teaching tribunal in November due to a cheating scandal more than four years ago, in which staff were caught on video “excessively” assisting pupils in English and maths exams. 

These included over-pronouncing words, such as saying ‘arc-i-tect' for architect and ‘d-e-send-dant' for descendent in a spelling test, indicating to pupils during a maths exam whether the answer they had provided was correct, and stating when pupils needed to leave spaces between words in an answer. 

The exams were later annulled by the Standards Testing Agency (STA) due to statistical anomalies, with the STA subsequently receiving a whistleblowing complaint from a member of staff present at one of the exams, as well as the video in question. 

Romford Recorder: Mead Primary School in Harold HillMead Primary School in Harold Hill (Image: Google)

During the hearing, Mr Drakes apologised to the teachers present, with “numerous” plaudits given on his behalf. 

The panel noted he accepted his actions were “dishonest and lacked integrity”, and that he said his intention was “always to assist pupils”. 

They added he confessed to having “created the weather” during the assessments, and acknowledged that other teachers modelled their behaviour on his own. 

However, they considered his conduct had amounted to “a serious nature which fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession”, and so recommended to the Secretary of State that a prohibition order be made. 

They wrote: “The panel was satisfied that Mr Drakes was the driving force in facilitating the dishonest conduct of himself, and his colleagues, on those occasions.  

“As an executive headteacher, the panel considered part of his role was to demonstrate ethical leadership to colleagues, and to pupils. On these two occasions [the two exams], he did not do so.” 

John Knowles, on behalf of the Secretary of State, concurred with the recommendation, allowing for Mr Drakes to apply for the order to be set aside no sooner than November 30, 2024. 

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