By Cara Sulieman
A TEACHER at a school once attended by the Prince of Wales has been struck off for helping pupils cheat in preparations for their oral French exam.
Eric Tessier-Lavigne admitted he sent 11 pupils at Gordonstoun School emails about a conversation topic in their GCSE exam, containing phrases “destroy after reading” and “for your eyes and ears only”.
He blamed inexperience and a lack of guidance from his senior colleagues for his actions, but argued he had not handed pupils any unfair advantage.
But yesterday the Disciplinary Sub-Committee of the General Teaching Council Scotland found the 51-year-old guilty of misconduct and removed him from the register.
Chairman Carole Ford said his actions called into question the very “probity of the examination system”.
She added: “The sub-committee were not persuaded the respondent fully appreciated the gravity of his actions and the extent to which public trust and confidence would be undermined by such conduct.
“His actions seriously jeopardized his position as a role model for young people.”
Whether Mr Tessier-Lavigne meant to help his pupils cheat or not, the panel said, his emails were “open to a number of interpretations”.
Tesier-Lavigne was suspended from the £26k a year job at the school last May where he taught GCSE and A Level French, just a year after he graduated from Aberdeen University.
He was accused of helping 11 pupils cheat in the oral part of their exam on May 4, 2009 by telling them what topic the unseen part of the test would be about.
“Just get on with the job”
Giving evidence Mr Tessier-Lavigne said he had no way of getting help to cope with the pressure of teaching the exams.
He said: “I had doubts about the content of the exams but I had to continue. I felt I could not turn to my head of department because I did not have a particularly good relationship with her.
“When you know you are not going to get the answer, you are just going to get a mouthful of abuse, you just get on with the job.
“I did ask if I could not run the exam.”
Asked by GTC lawyer Paul Marshall if the instructions “destroy after reading” meant information given to the pupils was supposed to be hidden, Mr Tessier-Lavigne said it was not.
“Over the top”
He said: “That’s like public school James Bond-ism. Should you choose to accept this mission. In hindsight I regret using hyperbolic, over inflated language in order to draw their attention to these emails.
“It’s over the top. I’m trying to attract the pupils’ attention so they will respond to them. I try to draw their attention so they listen and learn.”
Mr Tessier-Lavigne admitted that he had sent 11 emails to pupils telling them to study up on certain topics and had written “for your eyes and ears only” in the message.
He also admitted that what he had done had amounted to misconduct, but insisted that he didn’t mean to help the pupils cheat.
Andrew Gibb, representing Mr Tessier-Lavigne, said: “This is one of the more bizarre cases I have sat at this table and defended.
“He clearly would be an asset to the teaching profession. He is a caring teacher who had done his best for his pupils.”
Despite his pleas, the sub-committee found that his actions brought the profession and the exam system into disrepute.
Carole Ford said: “The sub-committee considered that the nature of the conduct contained within the charged held proven fell short of the standard expected of a registered teacher.
“The language used in the emails was inappropriate and open to a clear inference regarding the intentions behind them.”
Mr Tessier-Lavigne refused to comment after the hearing.
Famous alumni at the school include the Prince of Wales, his brothers the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, and the Duke of Edinburgh.