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Former senior staff at Samuel Ward Academy, in Haverhill, avoid teaching bans from Teaching Regulation Agency after publication of misconduct deemed sufficient punishment



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Three former senior staff at a Haverhill secondary school have avoided teaching bans after it was decided the publication of their historic misconduct was a sufficient and 'appropriate' punishment.

Andrew Prestoe, Howard Lay and Pat Stalker were questioned during a two-week Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) panel hearing last month following allegations of exam malpractice, 'off-rolling' and safeguarding issues at Samuel Ward Academy from 2012 to 2016.

Off-rolling is the practice of removing low-achieving students from the school register.

Andrew Prestoe and Howard Lay. Picture: Mecha Morton.
Andrew Prestoe and Howard Lay. Picture: Mecha Morton.

Mr Prestoe was a headteacher at the school, and Mr Lay was also headteacher before becoming chief executive of the Samuel Ward Trust, which oversaw the school. Mrs Stalker was assistant head from 2010 to 2016.

The panel found Mr Lay failed to act after learning that off-rolling was taking place at the school, but he had not been its ‘architect’.

It also found Mr Prestoe and Mrs Stalker were actively involved in off-rolling and had ‘breached ethical standards’ through failures linked to coursework ‘malpractice’. Mr Lay was cleared of three charges relating to coursework malpractice.

Pat Stalker.
Pat Stalker.

Following the panel's findings, Alan Meyrick, chief executive of the TRA, announced on Friday all three individuals would not face teaching bans.

Mr Meyrick considered the publication of the panel's findings were 'proportionate' and 'appropriate' punishments for all three.

He also considered their contributions to the teaching profession in the past, and how bans could affect their future careers.

Mr Meyrick said of Mr Prestoe the publication of the adverse findings from the hearing 'was sufficient to send an appropriate message to the teacher as to the standards of behaviour that are not acceptable', and the publication of those details would 'meet the public interest requirement of declaring proper standards of the profession.'

Andrew Prestoe. Picture: Mecha Morton.
Andrew Prestoe. Picture: Mecha Morton.

For Mr Lay, he said the same, adding the panel had 'received evidence of Mr Lay's outstanding contributions to teaching over many years as a head teacher and educational leader in Suffolk and neighbouring local authority areas.'

Mr Meyrick said the panel noted how Mr Lay was 'viewed as a visionary and inspirational leader by his colleagues at all levels in schools and the wider education arena'.

For Mrs Stalker, Mr Meyrick said he had placed considerable weight on the panel's comments that the 'recommendation of no prohibition order would be both a proportionate and an appropriate response'.

He added the publication of the findings of unacceptable professional conduct was again 'in the public interest'.

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