Sunderland school was right to sack teacher who gave pupils too much help

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A SUNDERLAND school has been cleared of unfairly sacking a teacher.

Carlos Herbane, former ICT teacher at Academy 360, took the school to an employment tribunal claiming he should not have been dismissed for gross misconduct.

However, the panel decided he had not been unfairly dismissed from the Pennywell school and was not entitled to damages.

Mr Herbane was sacked amid claims he gave improper assistance to the pupils.

That included giving extra marks for course work where pupils did not show supporting evidence, providing them with a model answer booklet – which a large number copied word for word – and failing in his duties to mark fairly.

A disciplinary hearing was held at the school and headteacher Paul Prest made the decision to dismiss Mr Herbane in March 2010.

The teacher then lost his appeal hearing and applied for an employment tribunal.

A report from the tribunal panel said the members accepted Mr Herbane was working under difficult circumstances, the school having recently moved from a secondary to the new academy and also was given little in the way of materials, not provided with specific training and had to deliver the unit in 50 per cent of the exam board’s recommended time.

It said: “In addition, he had challenging students with a high level of absenteeism and lateness.”

However, the tribunal body said it had been a very difficult year for all of Academy 360’s staff and students and the claimant was a reasonably-experienced teacher who a few years earlier had taken on additional responsibilities within his department, and was its deputy head.

The report said: “He created wholly inappropriate booklets, he failed to obey instructions to withdraw them, he failed to draw to anyone’s attention numerous examples of copying between students and of his booklets – indeed, he went on to award the copied work at least, and sometimes more than, a pass grade and he also allowed candidates a pass level (and frequently a merit or even distinction) when there was no or insufficient evidence to support it.

“These were extremely serious matters and in our judgement they amounted to gross misconduct and, as such, to a repudiatory breach of contract on the part of the claimant.”

A spokesman for the school said: “Academy 360 welcomes the result of the tribunal.

“The findings of the tribunal clearly highlight that the academy followed a clear and correct process in this case and that we will not tolerate malpractice here.”