“Exam cheat” teacher allowed to teach again
By Claire McKim
Eric Tessier-Lavigne sent pupils at £27,000-a-year Gordonstoun emails telling them what would be in their oral French exam.
The 51-year-old included phrases such as “destroy after reading” and “for your eyes and ears only” in the messages to 11 pupils at the prestigious boarding school inElgin, Moray, which also educated the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Tessier-Lavigne insisted he had not given students an unfair advantage but he was banned from teaching for calling in to question the very “probity of the examination system”.
Yesterday, the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) decided “unanimously” that Mr Tessier-Lavigne should be allowed to return to the profession.
At a hearing inEdinburgh, John Telford, convenor of the disciplinary sub-committee, said: “[We] did not find it was appropriate to remove Mr Lavigne from the register.”
Mr Telford said they accepted evidence from the teacher and felt he had reflected on his actions.
They had received five references on behalf of the teacher, including one from the depute head of nearbyNairnAcademy.
“The sub-committee felt he had showed a commitment to the teaching profession,” said Mr Telford.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Tessier-Lavine said: “I am absolutely delighted at the outcome.
“I look forward to moving on and getting back in the classroom inScotland.
“I have continued to teach outside ofScotlandand around the world but it has been a long wait inScotland.”
Tessier-Lavigne was suspended from his £26,000-a-year job at the school, where he taught GCSE and A Level French, just a year after he graduated fromAberdeenUniversity.
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.
Giving evidence at a hearing in April 2010, 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 at the same hearing by GTCS 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.
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.”
But Carole Ford, who chaired the disciplinary sub-commitee which struck off the teacher in 2010, was clear Mr Tessier-Lavigne had made a serious error.
She said at the time: ““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.”
No-one was available for comment at Gordonstoun.
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