School roll ‘altered to give exam boost’

Failing students were struck off a Black Country’s school records the same day they were forwarded to Government officials, it was claimed today.

Dame Mo Brennan
Dame Mo Brennan

The pupils were allegedly removed from the current roll at Hillcrest High School in Dudley in a bid by staff to boost GCSE examination pass rates, the hearing was told.

In two examples put before the Teaching Agency professional conduct panel, year 11 students, who did not sit GCSE exams, were removed from the roll before 9am on January 15 in 2004 – the very same day the record was sent to the Government.

Less than an hour after being removed, both students were reinstated to the school’s current roll.

The school’s former headteacher, Dame Mo Brennan, faced the disciplinary hearing in Coventry for a third day yesterday, along with teachers Shelley Derham and Linda West Westwood.

They all face charges of unacceptable professional conduct.

Mrs Brennan is currently head teacher at Barr Beacon School in Aldridge.

Yvonne O’Neill, former education welfare officer at Hillcrest, told the hearing she uncovered the alleged scheme during an investigation of the school registers.

She said: “There was a high level of movement on and off the roll.

“We didn’t understand, so I spoke to staff members and asked why year 11 pupils were removed from the roll and then put on after.

“I was told it was because it was to reduce the cohort and increase the percentage of GCSE passes.”

Mrs O’Neill said she also found many pupils’ attendance marks had been changed to show they were present up to five months after being initially marked.

Mrs Melanie McDonald, acting on behalf of Mrs Brennan, suggested the removal of students from the school roll had been a mistake.

The hearing continues.

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