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Green Spring Bethnal Green Academy head suspended in ‘exam fixing’ probe

01:47 11 February 2017

Mark Keary, principal at Green Spring Academy school in Berthnal Green

Mark Keary, principal at Green Spring Academy school in Berthnal Green

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The principal of east London’s top-performing secondary school that got 100 per cent A-Level passes has been suspended following allegations of “exam fixing”.

Keary addressing news conference after three of his pupils had fled to SyriaKeary addressing news conference after three of his pupils had fled to Syria

Mark Keary, head of Green Spring, formerly Bethnal Green Academy, was suspended with some members of his teaching staff, it has been reported.

The school is run by the Green Spring Education Trust which has told the BBC he was one of several staff removed, pending an inquiry.

“An investigation into alleged misconduct over some exams has found irregularities”, the trust said in a statement.

“We are taking the matter seriously and are working with the authorities to address concerns and to safeguard students taking exams this year.”

Mark Keary with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan at launch of anti-radicalisation programmeMark Keary with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan at launch of anti-radicalisation programme

The allegations are thought to concern the 2015-16 academic year and the current year.

The academy is one of the top performing schools in the country, with an 83 per cent pass at grades A to C in GCSE English and maths.

It’s A-Level results last summer topped Tower Hamlets’ league table with almost 100 per cent pass rate, making it to the nation’s top 10 best-performing schools.

Mr Keary’s students got 99.7pc passes, with nine-out-of-10 securing places at university, the East London Advertiser reported last August. Four-out-of-10Adobessed with top A*-to-B grades.

The three Bethnal Green pupils who slipped away to Syria to join Isis in 2015, caught on Gatwick's security CCTVThe three Bethnal Green pupils who slipped away to Syria to join Isis in 2015, caught on Gatwick's security CCTV

The school in Bethnal Green’s Gosset Street was also described by Ofsted as performing well above the national average for pupil progress.

But the Department for Education said in a statement yesterday: “Exam malpractice has been identified following an investigation at Green Spring, resulting in disciplinary action being taken.

“There is no place for cheating. It is right that any allegations, while exam malpractice is extremely rare, are thoroughly investigated.”

Mark Keary is paid £220,220 a year, the third-highest in Britain, according to a Taxpayers’ Alliance survey, reported in the Advertiser this time last year.

Bethnal Green Academy school trip last September to European Organisation for Nuclear Research centre in GenevaBethnal Green Academy school trip last September to European Organisation for Nuclear Research centre in Geneva

Taxpayers would not begrudge an inspiring headteacher a good salary if they produced great results and motivated students, the Alliance ‘think tank’ pointed out.

Its chief executive Jonathan Isaby said at the time: “The pay and perks enjoyed by those working at our schools and universities must reflect how well they’re doing in their jobs.”

GCSE exam analysis at the time of the survey showed Bethnal Green Academy one of Britain’s top-performing schools, with a record-breaking 90 per cent of pupils getting five or more A* to C grades including English and maths.

Now this latest development has cast a shadow on the school’s reputation.

Bethnal Green Academy made national headlines in February, 2015, when three girls slipped out of the country during spring half-term and boarded a flight at Gatwick to Turkey, where they crossed the border into Syria to join Isis.

Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum were just 15 at 16 at the time. They joined a fourth girl from the school who had made her way to Syria three months before. Kadiza’s family last year feared she had died in an air strike in Raqqa.

Mr Keary gave a news conference to the international and local press soon after the incident as a row brewed in Parliament over security and how the Met Police had handled it.

The government chose Bethnal Green academy exactly a year later to launch its national anti-radicalisation programme by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, hosted by Mr Keary and attended by Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs.

But 12 months on from that prestigious event, the limelight has faded by this latest allegation of exam cheating.

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