An Aberdeen teacher who doctored his pupils’ coursework is being allowed to continue teaching after avoiding being struck off at a tribunal.
Scott Brown made hundreds of alterations to his students’ coursework while working as an English teacher for Aberdeen City Council at Oldmachar Academy.
Mr Brown, who now teaches at Aberdeen’s private Albyn School, admitted doctoring that media coursework during the 2017-18 academic year.
His actions impacted on the results of 22 students after the Scottish Qualifications Authority returned 16 similar assignments that were sent in for marking at the National 5 and Higher levels – four of which were identical and with others having identical sections.
When initially confronted by senior teachers about the issues with assignments, Mr Brown lied to bosses and claimed students at the Bridge of Don school had been copying each other in their own time.
He said that it had taken a “long time” to come to terms with what he had done.
Mr Brown, of Aberdeen, went before the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) last month after questions were raised about his fitness to practise.
At that hearing the council’s presenting officer, solicitor Sarah Donnachie, accused the shamed educator of a “very serious level of dishonesty” and voiced concern that a reprimand may not act as “sufficient warning” to others within the profession.
“Panic” over vital assignments
Brown’s legal representative, Claire Rafferty, however, argued he had undertaken training courses to change his behaviour and suggested “the matter represents an isolated event”.
The GTCS panel agreed there was no need for Brown to be struck off, and instead put a reprimand against his name for the next three years, noting that he admitted his wrongdoing at an early stage.
In his testimony Mr Brown claimed he had been overworked because he had been running several classes and suffering from mental health challenges.
He admitted he had “panicked” when he realised that pupils had run out of time to finish vital assignments and then chose to make hundreds of changes to their submissions online.
Mr Brown told the GTCS: “I take full responsibility for my actions and understand that the consequences have come about by my actions alone.
“When I was suspended from working with Aberdeen City Council I was in shock, I was distraught and so ashamed. When I sat down to edit pupils’ work, I knew I was in the wrong and I knew there would be consequences – it kills me.
“If I had simply put up my hand and said I was struggling with this course, we would not be here today.”
Bosses and colleagues at his new school said they were aware of the matter when they took Mr Brown on and previously pleaded for him to keep his job.
Albyn School’s acting headteacher, David Starbuck, said: “We are satisfied with the outcome of the GTCS investigation. Scott Brown is an excellent and very valued teacher and we are happy to continue supporting him throughout his journey at Albyn School.”
In a written ruling, the GTCS said: “The panel was satisfied that the matter did constitute an abuse of a position of trust and that the teacher’s conduct had the potential to cause pupils harm.
“However, the teacher admitted his wrongdoing at an early stage in the process, had reflected on the matter, had demonstrated genuine remorse, and had taken positive steps to properly address the issues that gave rise to his misconduct.
“The panel was also satisfied that the matter represents an isolated period in an otherwise unblemished teaching career, there having been no repetition of the same or similar behaviour since the date of the allegations.”
Aberdeen City Council declined to comment.