Head Jailed for Forging Exam Papers; PRISON FOR 'FRUSTRATED' PRIMARY TEACHER WHO FAKED TEST ANSWERS

Article excerpt

Byline: COLIN FREEMAN

A FORMER primary school headmaster was today jailed for three months after he admitted forging dozens of exam papers.

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, Alan Mercer, 46, pleaded guilty at an earlier court hearing to 14 counts of forging national curriculum exam papers at two schools where he had worked, and asked for 140 similar offences to be taken into consideration.

He claimed he did it because he was under pressure over school performance league tables and felt sorry for his pupils. He altered answers on papers they had already taken, and he also added to them.

The matter came to light when the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) said it was "not confident the results were the unaided work of the pupils". It launched an investigation, describing the case as "unprecedented", and police were brought in.

Forensic experts concluded the papers had been altered. Unmarried Mercer, from Chatham in Kent, had in some cases used different coloured ink to make the alterations, or a different style of writing.

He resigned in October from his u30,000a-year headmaster's post at South Borough Primary School in Maidstone, and was later arrested. In January at Maidstone magistrates' court, where he pleaded guilty to forging exam papers, it was said he had felt under huge pressure over handling the school budget, the quality of his staff and the introduction of pupil performance league tables.

Mercer was "frustrated" because he felt pupils were being forced to sit exams when they were not ready.

The offences related to his time at South Borough, and at Eythorne Elvington Primary School in Dover, where he was previously head. The majority of the counts related to national curriculum maths and science exams taken by 10 and 11-year-olds. …