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Results axed and staff member suspended over SATs exam probe at Phoenix Junior Academy, Chatham

A senior member of staff has been suspended from a Chatham primary school over their actions during a SATs exams week.

Results for the test taken by about 90 pupils in the top year at Phoenix Junior Academy were declared null and void after an immediate investigation was launched.

Concerns were reported to the school’s trust, headed by executive principal Julia Bell, who informed the Standards and Testing Agency (STA).

Phoenix Junior Academy
Phoenix Junior Academy

Mrs Bell led the inquiry and handed over her comprehensive report to the STA, which took the decision to annul all the Year 6 results.

A trust spokesman said it was now involved in a confidential employment process and would not comment further at this stage.

"I assure you that it will not impact on your child’s next phase of education..." - Executive principal Julia Bell

The announcement was made to parents in a letter sent from Mrs Bell on July 23 at the end of term and as children left the academy in Glencoe Road to go on to secondary education.

It said: “Staff at the school became concerned about the actions of a senior member of staff during SATs week.”

It added: “To enable the investigation to be undertaken without prejudice, the senior member of staff was suspended.”

One mum, Julie White, whose daughter, Kayleigh, 10, sat the test in May, was angry that she only received the news three days after they had broken up.

Mum-of two Mrs White, of Castle Road, said: “My daughter put a lot of work into the tests. They had to work to deadlines and for most of them it was very stressful. To be told that they did all that work for nothing is wrong.

“Also, as there was no reply from the school we shall have to wait until September to complain, which is too late.”

A staff member at the school has been suspended
A staff member at the school has been suspended

Mrs Bell, who is in charge of the Fort Pitt Grammar School Academy, said: “This was, of course, very disappointing, but the trust was aware from the outset this was a possible outcome.

“Teacher assessment has been used to award Year 6 their levels so every Year 6 pupil at the school knows how well they have achieved.

“Teacher assessment has been standardised and moderated and the trust is confident that the levels are accurate. The trust would like to emphasise that no class teacher was involved in the maladministration of the SATs."

In a letter to parents, Mrs Bell said: “I am very sorry to have to inform you of this, but can assure you that it will not impact on your child’s next phase of education.”


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