Teacher who changed students’ coursework makes bid to have life ban lifted

A teacher who was banned from the classroom for changing students’ exam coursework has made a bid to have his suspension lifted.

John Wiseman, 49, was found to have made “extensive and significant modifications” to pupils’ work at Calderstones School in Allerton before submitting it to the exam board in 2018.

A Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) hearing in 2021 was told how Mr Wiseman, a former councillor, was employed at Calderstones for 17 years up until he was dismissed after an internal investigation.

He was handed an indefinite ban from education across England after his amendments were deemed to represent “unacceptable professional conduct.” Mr Wiseman has now lodged a bid to have the suspension lifted after a two-year period.

A fresh TRA hearing was told how Mr Wiseman is now employed as a teaching assistant at Ormskirk School having worked as a taxi driver following his departure from Calderstones. Under questioning from his representative Jonathan Storey, Mr Wiseman accepted his actions in 2018 had been “dishonest and not acceptable.”

The former teacher altered his pupils’ coursework before transferring the files to the school’s server. The school started a disciplinary investigation and Mr Wiseman was suspended a week later. 

He resigned from his role at the school on 8 February 2019. Mr Wiseman told the hearing his actions had “effectively damaged the future prospects of pupils” and they had no idea what he had done.

The former St Helens Labour councillor said he had “let them down” and harmed the reputation of the school in altering the coursework. Asked by Mr Storey how he thought the public would react to his behaviour, Mr Wiseman said: “They would be quite horrified,” adding “what I did undermined the teaching profession.”

After leaving Calderstones, Mr Wiseman took up a role as a teaching assistant working with special educational needs children. He said in this position he had “tried to be a good role model” and wanted to bring “values of honesty and integrity to the fore.”

Asked how he would act should he be permitted to teach again, Mr Wiseman said, “I would ask for help earlier, I know the damage my actions had done. You tell the truth, you’re honest.

“Honesty and integrity are the soul of being a teacher. I would never put myself in that position again.”

The former teacher said he would seek to get a teaching post at Ormskirk if permitted, in a business studies or IT capacity where possible. He added: “I can teach a lot of subjects, I’m confident of that.”

Reflecting on his behaviour in 2018, Mr Wiseman said he “panicked” and it had been an “error of judgement.” After the conduct came to light two years ago, Mr Wiseman said he stepped down from St Helens Council as he “didn’t think it was appropriate to be in the public domain, particularly on an education committee.”

Ian Pearce, head of special needs education at Ormskirk School, spoke in support of Mr Wiseman. He said he had no concerns about the former teacher’s honesty and integrity or conduct.

Mr Pearce added, “I can tell he beats himself up about it every single day… I’ll say what the kids do, the guy’s a legend at our school and they love him.”

Addressing the committee advocating for Mr Wiseman to have his ban lifted, Mr Storey said his actions in 2018 had been “an hour and a half of panic” which he acknowledged had been a “profoundly stupid thing to have done.” He added how the loss of Mr Wiseman’s career had been an “incredibly powerful lesson” and he wanted to display his repentance.

The three-person panel said it would not make a decision on Mr Wiseman in public and would confirm its judgement in writing first to the Secretary of State for Education before releasing it online in due course.

Images: GOOGLE

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