Teacher who falsified his qualifications ‘got caught in a terrible web of lies’

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A teacher who falsified certificates about his teaching qualifications so he could work in Ireland has told an inquest he was ‘caught in a terrible web of lies’.

The language teacher told a Teaching Council fitness-to-teach hearing that he accepted as true a series of allegations that his actions constituted professional misconduct and violated the Teachers’ Code of Professional Conduct. teachers.

The teacher, who cannot be named by the leadership of the council’s disciplinary committee, admitted he had submitted fraudulent certificates to the Teaching Council in the summer of 2020 claiming to be from the UK Teaching Regulation Agency ( TRA) and the UK Department of Education and indicated that he had completed an initiation to teaching programme.

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The inquest heard the teacher later claimed he had been scammed by the TRA which he knew to be fake in order to cover up his own fraudulent actions.

Teaching Council solicitor Hugh McDowell BL said the teacher repeated he had been scammed out of £60 by a TRA official when he made a complaint about of his treatment by the Teaching Council later that year with the Ombudsman.

Mr McDowell said the allegations against the teacher were very serious as his actions were ‘dishonorable and disgraceful’ and would amount to professional misconduct.

He said they breached the profession’s code of conduct by failing to act with honesty and integrity regarding his professional status and qualifications and by failing to uphold the reputation and standards of the profession.

Committee chairman Charlie Dolan said he would publish his findings by April 13.

Fake school stamp

At the start of the hearing, Mr McDowell successfully requested the addition of two other allegations after the teacher reported in recent correspondence to the Board of Education that he had falsely completed a form claiming to be from his former headmaster of a school in England and using a fake school stamp.

Addressing the inquest, the teacher said he was truly sorry for the harm caused by his actions, for which he bore “enormous shame”. He explained that a teaching job in England did not work out due to stress and anxiety and he returned to Ireland to support his family.

The teacher said his mental health also suffered during the Covid-19 lockdown while he was unemployed.

He told the inquest he later got an offer of a teaching job at a secondary school, but was warned by the headmistress that she might have to let him go if he didn’t. was not fully qualified.

The teacher, who still has a job at the school, said he forged documents because he was determined “not to pass up a job opportunity”.

He added that he had learned a valuable lesson and asked the committee “to look beyond my misbehaviour” and recognize that he had completed his initiation and shown potential as a teacher.

Several written character references from school principals were read on his behalf at the inquest.

The teacher, who completed a languages ​​degree in Ireland in 2018 followed by a postgraduate teaching qualification at an English university, contacted the Teaching Council in early 2020 about registering to teach at the post-primary level.

However, he was told that his UK qualifications would not be recognized as he had only completed two of the three compulsory school terms as a trainee teacher.

The inquest heard the teacher was frustrated at being told by the Board of Education that he could either return to England to complete his induction or take a two-year university course in the Republic.

‘Lack of compassion’

In correspondence, the teacher said he was very disappointed with the lack of compassion shown by the Teaching Council and that an exception could not be made given the shortage of language teachers in Ireland.

He complained his lack of flexibility was “beyond shocking” as he struggled to “make ends meet” as he could not return to England due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s insulting to be asked to do two years [study] again,” he added.

The teacher was then told he could have completed his induction in Ireland following changes to regulations during the pandemic which allowed teachers to enter the Irish education system without having completed their induction abroad.

TRA manager Philip Gallagher told the inquest that the documentation submitted by the teacher was not genuine as the certificate stated his initiation was “completed” when the TRA would use the word “passed”. The former headmaster of a school in England, where he taught between September 2019 and March 2020, has testified that his alleged handwriting on a form submitted to the Teaching Council was forged.

The principal said he would not have answered a certain question about the teacher’s performance on the form as presented because there had been “concerns about his class management”.

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