A NUMBER of allegations against a former headteacher of ‘fiddling’ tests at her school – which were reported to Pembrokeshire County Council but ignored - have been considered proved by an Education Workforce Council hearing.

Wales Online’s Abbie Wightwick reported on last week’s EWC hearing in Cardiff in relation to former Saundersfoot Community Primary head Helen Lester.

Miss Lester faced seven allegations, all but one were found proved and one was partly proved.

The two day hearing found that allegations of amending the results of the 2014 procedural tests by increasing the scores of pupils and amending the results of the 2015 procedural tests by correcting answers on the test papers and/or by increasing the scores of pupils were proved.

Other allegations of acting ‘dishonestly’ include allowing teachers to see test papers before procedural tests in 2014 and/or 2015. This was found proved in 2014 but not 2015.

It was not found proved that Miss Lester allowed pupils to sit the tests in her office, but she did mark pupil’s test papers, but this is not considered dishonest.

It is also claimed that in 2014 and/or 2015 Miss Lester allowed certain pupils extra time to complete the tests. This was found not proved.

The hearing found proved that Miss Lester acted with “unacceptable professional misconduct”.

The current headteacher Nick Allen broke down in tears as he described how his predecessor faked pupils' scores to make the school look good.

Current headteacher Nick Allen, who replaced Miss Lester in September 2015 after her retirement, told the hearing teachers at the school had told him about their concerns about falsified grades.

He was told by Pembrokeshire County Council there was no need for an investigation when he reported concerns shortly after taking up his post, reported Wales Online.

The hearing was told by Year three teacher Adele Evans that Miss Lester said her pupils’ marks were “crap” and asked if more marks could be found. Miss Lester warned her not to report the conversation as she could “be sacked or go to prison”.

Carys Rees told the hearing that as a newly qualified teacher in 2014 she was shocked Miss Lester told her she was unhappy with her year three pupils’ results. She took some pupils out of class to go through questions again and said they made “silly mistakes that had been rectified”.

Miss Lester then changed the scores for those and other pupils. These results were far higher than expected and not a true reflection of pupils’ ability, Mrs Rees said.

Mr Allen said on September 11, 2015, he emailed Pembrokeshire County Council but was told by email there was “little was to be gained from an investigation with regard to Helen Lester’s practices”.

“I felt the matter should be investigated but at that stage their view was that no further investigation was needed as Helen Lester was no longer at the school.

“But I was informed she continued to work with the LEA from September 2015 to train governing bodies’ staff on data collection and as an Estyn inspector.

“It made me feel uncomfortable as it was the same department I had informed and she continued to be paid by the LEA.

“I was placed in a very difficult situation, However the LEA did not wish to investigate these concerns.

“In addition the performance of school would be seen to be very different and it would appear the school suddenly ceased to perform.”

The LEA finally launched an investigation in July 2016 after an employment tribunal involving a member of staff was held.

In written evidence Miss Lester said the allegations were “offensive” and she had voluntarily removed her name from the EWC teaching register and resigned as a school inspector and advisor.

“That is not an admission of guilt but my role in education is over. My reputation has been severely damaged and it is inconceivable to continue to be part of the education workforce.”

She was banned from teaching and working as a learning support worker for three years.

Miss Lester will be able to make an application to become a registered teacher after three years.

Estyn confirmed she was still a registered inspector but was “not active”.