Classroom ban on teacher at Educating Yorkshire school

Thornhill Community Academy, Dewsbury.

Thornhill Community Academy, Dewsbury.

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A deputy headteacher at a school made famous by the Educating Yorkshire TV series has been barred from the classroom after a misconduct panel found that she repeatedly altered student attendance records.

Beverley James was ruled to have carried out unacceptable professional conduct by deliberately changing the records so that they were inaccurate or misleading while she was an associate deputy head at Thornhill Academy, in Dewsbury.

A National College for Teaching and Leadership misconduct panel found that in doing so she had acted dishonestly. It has banned her from working as a teacher indefinitely. But she can apply to have the order lifted in five years.

Mrs James, who did not attend the panel hearing, had denied the allegations and said that any changes she made to the records were legitimate.

However, the panel said it accepted the evidence of a witness from the school who had investigated the matter and found that inaccurate changes had been made.

It highlighted one pupil’s record for a day in September 2014, which was changed from being on an authorised absence for illness to being on an educational visit.

When this was investigated records show there was only one school trip on the day and this pupil had not been on it.

The panel also highlighted eight other changes to records which when checked were found to be inaccurate. It was told that allegations were raised by a whistleblower and investigated by the school.

Mrs James attended a school disciplinary meeting last June in which she denied the allegations. Just under a month later she resigned from her job.

The panel said evidence showed she made around 600 changes to records between September 2014 and March 2015. It said it rejected Mrs James’s suggestion that someone else might have made amendments while she left her computer logged on and unattended.

However, it said she had strategic responsibility for improving the school’s attendance records and “would have had a desire to demonstrate” an improvement.

It added that it was significant that the “overwhelming majority of changes made by Mrs James had a positive impact” on attendance levels.

The panel’s findings said: “In the circumstances the panel is satisfied that Mrs James knew that her actions were dishonest.”