A tribunal has heard that a cheating headteacher covered up 28,000 pupil absences in a five-year “web of deceit”.
52-year-old Peter Spencer ordered staff to log pupils at Queen Elizabeth High School South Wales as present when they were missing from classes. More than 28,000 absences were altered from 2014 to 2019, an Education Workforce Council tribunal heard.
The falsifying of data came after an inspection called for improved attendance at the 1,500-pupil school in Carmarthen. Mr Spencer, who was headteacher for nine years, left the school two years ago and has now been struck off from the teaching register.
Luke Lambourne, who presented the case at the tribunal, spoke of a “web of deceit” that unravelled in autumn 2018 when a staff member told school governors of the practice. He stated that staff falsified records due to feeling “under pressure” and because of misguided loyalty. One staff member spoke of how he felt “anxious the whole time” when he was asked to edit the data.
Mr Spencer said in a written statement that a staff member had changed the data and that he had not reported it because the school was under pressure to perform well. His statement read: “I have never instructed any employee to falsely inflate attendance data. I accept fully that being aware of malpractice and in not acting I condoned the malpractice.”
The tribunal found he had committed a “protracted, serious instance of misconduct over many years”. The panel said his “extent of regret and remorse is limited” and he was struck off the register in Wales.
Mr Spencer can apply to re-join the teaching register in five years, however,he is now the headteacher of an international school in Qatar.