Wymondham school whistleblower claims his allegations of cheating in department led to dismissal

New Wymondham College principal Jonathan Taylor

New Wymondham College principal Jonathan Taylor - Credit: Archant

The principal of a boarding school failed to take action against alleged cheating in its ICT department despite complaints from two members of staff, a tribunal has heard.

The principal of a boarding school failed to take action against alleged cheating in its ICT department despite complaints from two members of staff, a tribunal has heard.

Jonathan Taylor, principal of Wymondham College, was alerted to a 'culture of cheating' in the GCSE and A-level ICT and computer sciences (CS) department in October 2015, involving students having up to double the prescribed amount of time for controlled assessments, issues around grading and teachers 'tweaking' coursework.

However Mr Taylor, who had been principal for a year at the time, told an employment tribunal in Bury St Edmunds yesterday that he did not investigate the claims himself, instead relying on the conclusions of an internal investigation by ICT staff and reports from two external investigators.

The concerns were raised by director of E-learning at the college, Ashrad Ali, who believes his dismissal in December 2015 was directly related to his whistleblowing.


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However, the tribunal heard evidence from other members of the ICT department, including its director Kim Williams, who claimed Mr Ali was 'rude', 'hostile' and 'difficult to work with'.

Representing the school, Edward Kemp said: 'I suggest you were sacked because of your behaviour causing serious dysfunctionality within the department.'

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Mr Ali said he thought the school was 'fantastic' but conceded there were issues with his colleagues.

The tribunal also heard evidence from Sydney Payne, another member of ICT staff at the school, who corroborated Mr Ali's claims of cheating within the department. A previous investigation had taken place into Mr Payne's claims in 2013, conducted by then vice principal Stephen Groves.

In his witness statement Mr Payne said: 'Relationships had gone downhill in the ICT department durng 2015, mainly because of the dispute over cheating. The culture of cheating caused the relationship between Mr Ali and other colleagues to become very strained.'

My Taylor said he had become aware of Mr Ali's allegations of cheating in the department after reading Mrs Sowden's report, published in October 2015.

He decided to commission another report from Mrs Ives, which found the marking and moderation process within the department 'needed clarity and transparency'.

Mr Taylor said his decision to sack Mr Ali was a result of the independent reports marking him as a 'contributory factor' in staff tensions within the ICT department – one of the school's worst performing departments at the time.

'I am certain that the emerging dysfunctionality between Mr Ali and Mrs Williams may well have been a contributory factor in the department's relatively poor performance.

'My feeling was that the breakdown was irretrievable.'

In a press statement, Mr Taylor added: 'We vigorously deny the allegations and are confident that the tribunal will find in our favour. We ensure that all examination and other assessed work is invigilated and marked to the highest standards, and in accordance with the examination board guidance.'

The tribunal will conclude today but a verdict is not expected until a later date.

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