Education 

Primary school head and teacher he left his wife for both banned from profession for SATs cheating

A primary school headmaster and the Year Six teacher he left his wife for have both been banned from the profession for coaching pupils for their SATs exams.

Mike Watt, 44, left his spouse of 15 years in 2018 to be with Emma Kelly, 29, a teacher who recently qualified at his school. 

Parents’ surprise at the relationship turned to anger when inspectors moved in to investigate the SATs results in Miss Kelly’s class.

Children were found to have been coached by Mr Watt and Miss Kelly to make sure her pupils received better results than they might otherwise have done . 

Emma Kelly, 29, who had a relationship with married headteacher Mike Watt, 44, has been banned from the profession for coaching pupils on SATs exams

Emma Kelly, 29, who had a relationship with married headteacher Mike Watt, 44, has been banned from the profession for coaching pupils on SATs exams 

Mr Watt resigned from his £80,000 a year role as head of Colburn Primary School, Catterick, North Yorkshire, and Miss Kelly quit at the same time.

Now, both have been struck off indefinitely by the Teaching Regulation Agency which found that both of them cheated by coaching pupils.

A parent at the school said: ‘The head took a very personal interest in the results in Miss Kelly’s class, which is maybe not surprising since they had a personal interest in each other.

‘It led to our children’s results being annulled and that means they have no assessment results when they move on into secondary school, which could be damaging.

‘They had worked so hard all year and told the SATs were incredibly important only to have their results scrapped because of the way they were taught. What sort of example does that set?’

Mr Watt has also been banned from teaching as he too assisted in coaching pupils on SATs exams. Mr Watt was believed to be 'happily married with two young sons' before the relationship with Miss Kelly

Mr Watt has also been banned from teaching as he too assisted in coaching pupils on SATs exams. Mr Watt was believed to be ‘happily married with two young sons’ before the relationship with Miss Kelly 

The TRA found the cheating occurred in the academic year 2017/18 and concluded both had been dishonest, although neither of the two members of staff accepted the allegations.

In Mr Watt’s case, the panel said: ‘Ordinary decent people would consider Mr Watt’s actions dishonest.

‘There is an expectation that teachers do not tamper with pupil’s assessment outcomes and that such interference with the assessments would amount to dishonesty.

‘The panel did acknowledge that Mr Watt was of previous good character. However, the panel found that Mr Watt had knowingly caused the maladministration of writing assessments to unfairly improve the assessment outcomes for several pupils. The panel found this was dishonest.

‘The panel went on to consider if Mr Watt’s actions amounted to a lack of integrity. The panel accepted that in these circumstances, having found Mr Watt did behave dishonestly, it is hard to conceive that this does not amount to a lack of integrity.

Before being banned from teaching, Mr Watt had resigned from his £80,000 a year role as head of Colburn Primary School, pictured, in Catterick, North Yorks, and Miss Kelly quit her job at the same time

Before being banned from teaching, Mr Watt had resigned from his £80,000 a year role as head of Colburn Primary School, pictured, in Catterick, North Yorks, and Miss Kelly quit her job at the same time

‘The panel was mindful that in his role as Headteacher, Mr Watt held a trusted role at the school, and in society. The panel found that Mr Watt’s actions fell below the ethical standards of the teaching profession, and amounted to a lack of integrity.’

Meanwhile, the panel found Miss Kelly produced a letter which pupils used as a framework in a writing test.

The TRA said: ‘The panel found that there were significant and striking similarities between each of the pupils’ work and with the letter produced by Miss Kelly. This included the order and topic of the paragraphs, the structure of the paragraphs, the phrasing, punctuation and vocabulary.’

She was also found to have acted dishonestly and without integrity and was also struck off indefinitely.

Miss Kelly joined the school in September 2016. At that time she was in a relationship with long term boyfriend Chris Robinson, 34.

The couple split in October the following year, around the time that parents were hearing rumours of a relationship between Miss Kelly and the head.

A parent said: ‘It came as quite a shock because as far as any of us knew he was a happily married man with two young sons.’

The head’s wife Helen was said by friends to be devastated at the breakdown of the marriage, with Mr Watt and Miss Kelly rumoured to have moved in together.

At the time of their resignation, Judith Kirk, North Yorkshire County Council’s assistant director for education and skills, said: ‘The Standards and Testing Agency has written to the chair of governors at Colburn Community Primary School to confirm that key stage 2 test outcomes have been annulled for a number of Year 6 pupils who were involved in end of key stage 2 SATS in the last academic year.

‘This follows the annulment of Colburn’s key stage 2 writing assessments after concerns were raised about the administration of the statutory teacher assessment of writing.

‘During an investigation commissioned by the school’s board of governors, allegations regarding the administration of the tests were received.

Ms Kirk added: ‘These allegations were passed to the Standards and Testing Agency for consideration.

‘The outcome of the STA investigation is that some of the test results for last year’s cohort have been annulled.

‘We have supported Colburn Primary throughout the investigation and worked with them to inform the affected pupils’ new secondary schools to make sure that their learning is not adversely affected in any way.

‘Following investigation by the Standards and Testing Agency, the headteacher accepted that the outcome of the investigations of the STA did not serve the best interests of the school. Consequently, the school governors have accepted his resignation. 

‘Additionally, the resignation of a teacher as a result of the outcome of the STA investigations has also been accepted.’

Angie Dale, Colburn’s chair of governors, described it as ‘an upsetting development.’

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