Teacher struck off after faking poetry essays


A TEACHER has been banned from the classroom after he faked students’ standard grade English essays.

Colin Cairns, 51, who taught at Crieff High School in Perth, wrote essays for two pupils despite not teaching them the poems they discussed.

Cairn’s former pupils told the hearing they had not written essays on poems, ‘The Pied Piper’ and ‘The Ruined City’ which were in the fourth-year students’ folios.

The General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) said Cairns had “failed to act with integrity” and the hearing was also told of allegations Cairns had bullied and intimidated staff and pupils.

Two former pupils came forward to give evidence at Cairns' hearing


He faced four charges of submitting folios to the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) ‘having known or ought to have known that they contained essays that were not the students’ work’ in March 2010.

A GTCS statement said: “[Cairns] failed to uphold the standards of professional conduct expected of a registered teacher.

“[Cairns] failed to act with integrity whilst making declarations or conducting tasks in connection with pupils’ examinations and in the particular circumstances of this case failed to act as a role model to those in his charge.”

The GTCS added: “Having seen and heard the witnesses the Sub-Committee found the witnesses Pupil A and Pupil B to be both credible and reliable in their evidence in all material respects.”

Cairns had denied all four charges, and said he had complained of security issues with the English folios at the school, and his concerns were going ignored by other staff.

The GTCS said they accepted Cairns had a ‘difficult’ relationship with other teachers in the English department.

But they added: “Nonetheless the Sub-Committee found that the Respondent had an obligation to act in a responsible and honest way in regard to the interests of the pupils in his care.”

Ruined City

The hearing was told earlier in January one of Cairns’ pupils had told him she did not have an essay on poetry for her standard grade portfolio.

She said: “I told him [Mr Cairns] I didn’t have a poetry piece for my portfolio and he said he would deal with it.”

When the pupil, who cannot be named for legal reasons, looked at the essay she realised it was not written by her.

Another pupil gave a similar tale of not recognising her essay on another poem, The Ruined City.

They said they had not been taught any poetry in fourth year.

Cairns questioned the pupils, telling one of them: “Why would I do something that would harm my career and question my integrity as a person?”

He said he suspected a ‘third party’ had been involved, and said the witnesses had been ‘tampered with.’


Last week, the hearing took evidence from the school’s principal English teacher, Vic Johnstone, who said he felt Cairns had a ‘grudge’ against him.

The two teachers’ relationship soured soon after Cairns started at the school in 2007, when he accused Mr Johnstone of trying to automatically pass his pupils in a class.

The two made complaints about each other, and senior management tried to ameliorate the situation between the two.

Mr Johnstone said: “I found that Mr Cairns had been very difficult to work with and always demanding resources, facilities and so on. This developed into a kind of aggression which I saw in other areas as well.

“To all intents and purposes he was bullying me.”

Panic attack

Mr Johnstone continued: “One member of staff refused to speak to him under any circumstances. One had a panic attack when he turned up to school unexpectedly.”

Questioned by his solicitor Morris Jamieson, Mr Cairns said: “I felt I was being intimidated by Mr Johnson because he was basically offering my job away.”

Mr Cairns told the hearing about allegations of intimidating pupils : “One complaint from a third year pupil had alleged that I had slammed a book on the desk and intimidated him.”

He continued: “Those allegations were dropped. They went through due process and they said there was nothing to support the allegation.

“It hurts your reputation and questions your humanity.”

When asked by his lawyer Morris Jamieson how he felt after the allegations were made in February 2010, he told the GTCS  hearing: “Not good. I was sleepless, I was tremendously stressed out and frustrated and stressed out that things were happening as they were.”