Panel decides teacher put secret exam information in revision notes


A TEACHER put secret exam information in revision notes for colleagues, a disciplinary panel has ruled.

But Sabrina Ferguson escaped punishment because she did not realise the information from the SQA was actual exam content.

The teacher, from Lornshill Academy, Alloa, produced revision notes for the 2010 Graphics Communications exams from Standard Grade to Higher levels.

Ms Ferguson denied the charges against her


The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) heard that a question in the revision notes appeared in a “very specific” form to one in the exam.

Mrs Ferguson had passed the revision notes to colleagues two months before the exam.

She was charged by the GTCS with using material from the SQA exam provided by Bob Roberts.

Mr Roberts was former head of the technical department at the school and an SQA “vetter”, a part-time appointee who checks exam questions before they appear in papers.

Mrs Ferguson’s fitness to teach was impaired as a result, claimed the GTCS.

The disciplinary panel, in its report on the case, said they found the complaint proved “on the balance of probabilities”.

But the panel said it was not proved that Mrs Ferguson, who denied the charges, knew the information she was being given related to exam papers.

The panel, chaired by Yusuf Segovia, stated: “By a narrow majority the panel found that the General Teaching Council had not shown on the balance of probabilities that the Respondent possessed that knowledge.

“The complaint was found proved but was subject to this important limitation.”

The panel decided her fitness to teach was not impaired, and ordered no sanction be taken against her.

Mrs Ferguson’s solicitor, Andrew Gibb, told the hearing on an earlier occasion that “no children benefited at all” from the revision lists.

During an earlier hearing, the panel took evidence from Alan Smithyman, who prepared a report on the revision lists.

Mr Smithyman said he was one of the most senior technical teachers in the country with 27 years’ experience.

He told the hearing: “From my experience I was led to conclude whoever had written these notes had seen the 2010 examination paper or at least had notes on it.”

He said one question, where pupils were asked to draw a cross-section of a windscreen holder, appeared in a very specific form in the lists.

The 51-year-old said: “It would be almost impossible to predict a windscreen holder as part of an examination”.

The number of objects which could have appeared in the exam was “infinite,” he said.

The panel said they accepted Mr Smithyman’s evidence.

The SQA said they worked annually with 15,000 “appointees” including markers and invigilators.

A spokesman said: “Recently, the SQA took the decision to re-emphasise its confidentiality clauses…to remind them of the terms and conditions they agree to.”