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Teacher accused of writing exam essays for students

Colin Cairns was tight-lipped as he lef the hearing yesterday.

A TEACHER wrote exam essays for students after failing to teach them a key part of their subject, a disciplinary hearing was told.

Pupils claimed that Colin Cairns fabricated standard grade poetry essays – without their knowledge – and sent them away to examiners.

The 51-year-old English teacher at Crieff High School, who denies the charges, appeared yesterday before a disciplinary panel of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).

Mr Cairns faces charges that he included essays on poetry in the Standard Grade English portfolios for two of his former pupils that he knew was not their work.

He is further accused of submitting essays on ‘The Pied Piper’ and ‘The Ruined City’ to the school’s principal teacher of English for submission to the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA).

The alleged incidents took place on March 17 2010.

If found guilty Mr Cairns could be struck off the teaching register.


Witness for the council, a pupil from Mr Cairn’s standard grade class, said she had approached her teacher after realising she did not have a poetry piece for her English 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.”

She told the hearing that the next time she saw her portfolio it included an essay on ‘The Pied Piper’.

She said: “I noticed it wasn’t in my handwriting. It was the Pied Piper. I had not done the Pied Piper. I said that I had not written it, it was not my piece.”

John Telford, Council Convener, asked the pupil if she could remember studying the ‘Pied Piper’ text, to which she replied: “I don’t recall studying the Pied Piper.”

A second witness, also from Mr Cairns’ Standard Grade English class, was questioned by council solicitor, Niall Mclean.

He asked the pupil if she had submitted a poetry piece on ‘The Ruined City’ to her English Standard Grade portfolio.

She said: “I didn’t have a poetry piece when I handed it in and he [Mr Cairns] said he would sort it for me. I just thought he was my teacher and it was fine to go with what he said.

“I thought he [Mr Cairns] had written an essay for us. I didn’t have an essay and then when I got my folio there was an essay in it that I haven’t done.”


Mr Cairns, representing himself, asked the witness: “Did you study any poetry in my class in 4th year?”

She replied: “No, not that I remember.”

Mr Cairns asked the girl who she thought had written the poetry piece, to which she replied: “I didn’t know who it was. I thought it was you, I assumed it was you but I didn’t really know for sure.

The teacher replied: “Why would I do that? Why would I do something that would harm my career and question my integrity as a person? Why would I do that when I could have just out in another poem that was written by you?

He asked the girl: “Why would I, as a teacher, have written an essay? Would it not be an easier option to put the Tractor poem in that you had already done and just finished your portfolio like that?

The girl replied: “I am not aware of the poem Tractor. I don’t remember writing it.”

While cross-examining the first witness, Mr Cairns suggested other people had had access to his cupboard while he had been away from the school.

The first witness agreed: “I saw other pupils accessing the teacher’s cupboard when you were off school.”

The teacher told the hearing: “I believe very much so that the witness statements were tampered with, that the witnesses were tampered with and that there was a third party involved.”

The case continues.

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