Former Richmond School music teacher banned for exam dishonesty

Richmond School.

A former Richmond School music teacher has been banned from teaching after she was found to have submitted GCSE work for pupils that was not their own.

A professional conduct panel found that Allison Brown had shown a lack of integrity and to have behaved dishonestly.

Ms Brown, who was lead music teacher at Richmond School from May 2015 to November 2017, has been banned from teaching indefinitely and will not be able to apply to have the ban lifted for two years.

The panel heard that during the Easter holidays in April 2017 Ms Brown went into the school to prepare assessment work for pupils studying GCSE music.

She declared that the work submitted had been the students’ own, however an investigation was later launched after the school became suspicious about the validity of the work of three pupils.

In one case, the teacher submitted a recording of Bach Minuet in G on behalf of a student.

However, a witness gave evidence that the piece sounded like it had been performed by an experienced pianist using both hands.

The witness said he had seen no evidence the pupil in question could have performed at that level.

Another expert described the recording as a “polished performance completed by an accomplished pianist – certainly someone who has been learning for 1 or 2 years if not more”.

The student also gave evidence. She stated that had been using her voice and the guitar for her work, but Ms Brown thought that she could achieve a better grade using the piano.

The student then said she had no previous experience of playing the piano but that she practised the piece about three times each week over a period of three weeks before the assessment.

The student said she was “very left handed” and only played with her left hand.

Another student told the school’s own disciplinary investigation, when concerns about Ms Brown’s behaviour were raised, that she struggled with music and expected to get an ungraded mark.

But a witness said the piece, When The Saints, that Ms Brown submitted on her behalf  was a “delicate musical moment” and had “clear melody” that was in their opinion above the student’s ability.

A witness said a third student’s work was usually “very metronomic and bland”.

The piece submitted for the student for her assessment however “contained elements of musicality” and a “swagger”.

Ms Brown did not attend the panel hearing but admitted in a written statement to making errors in relation to attributing recorded pieces to individual students and to confusing the work of different students.

Finding that Ms Brown’s action’s had lacked integrity, the panel concluded that the submitted work would lead to the students being awarded a higher mark than justified by their respective abilities.

With regard to dishonesty, the panel noted that following her suspension from the school, Ms Brown returned her laptop with all files deleted, meaning that investigators had no evidence of the exam submissions.

Jenna Potter, Richmond School head teacher, said: “Whilst I cannot comment on current or former members of staff in the media, I can confirm that the appropriate policies are implemented in response to matters such as this and a fair process followed.”