A teacher who forged certificates of his teaching qualifications in order to work in Ireland has told on inquiry that he was “entangled in a terrible web of lies”.
The language teacher said at a teaching aptitude hearing before the Teaching Council that he accepted as true a number of allegations that his actions constituted professional misconduct and violated the Code of Conduct for Teachers.
The teacher, who cannot be named by order of the Council’s Disciplinary Committee, admitted he had presented fake certificates to the Teaching Council in the summer of 2020, allegedly from the UK Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) and the UK Department of Education and graduated a teaching degree.
The investigation revealed that the teacher later claimed he was the victim of a scam by the TRA, which he knew was false, to cover up his own fraudulent actions.
Teaching Council solicitor Hugh McDowell BL said the teacher repeated an allegation that he had been cheated out of £60 by a TRA officer when he made a complaint to the Ombudsman later that year about his treatment by the Teaching Council .
Mr McDowell said the allegations against the teacher were very serious as his actions were “dishonorable and shameful” and amounted to professional misconduct.
He said they had violated the profession’s code of conduct by not acting with honesty and integrity regarding his professional status and qualifications and by failing to uphold the reputation and standards of the profession.
Committee chair Charlie Dolan said he would release his findings by April 13.
At the start of the hearing, Mr McDowell successfully requested the addition of two more allegations after the teacher, in a recent correspondence with the Teaching Council, signaled that he had incorrectly filled out a form allegedly from his former headmaster at a school in England and had used a fake school stamp.
When asked about the request, the teacher said he was truly sorry for the harm caused by his actions, for which he bore “a great shame”.
He explained that an apprenticeship in England didn’t work out due to stress and anxiety and he returned to Ireland to support his family.
The teacher said his mental health has also suffered during the Covid-19 lockdown when he was unemployed.
He told the inquiry he later secured an offer of a post as a secondary school teacher, but the principal warned him she might have to fire him if he wasn’t fully qualified.
The teacher, who still has a job at the school, said he forged documents because he was determined “not to miss a job opportunity”.
He added that he had learned a valuable lesson and asked the committee to “look beyond my reprehensible behavior” and acknowledge that he had completed his induction and shown potential as a teacher.
Several written references from school principals were read on his behalf for the investigation.
The teacher, who completed a language degree in Ireland in 2018 followed by a postgraduate teaching diploma from an English university, approached the Teaching Council in early 2020 to register to teach at post-primary level.
However, he was told that his qualifications would not be recognized in the UK as he had only completed two of the three compulsory terms as a trainee teacher.
The inquiry revealed that the teacher was frustrated when told by the Teaching Council that he could either return to England to complete his induction or complete a two-year college course in the Republic.
In the correspondence, the teacher said he was very disappointed at the lack of sympathy from the Teaching Council and that given the shortage of language teachers in Ireland, no exception could be made.
He complained his lack of flexibility was “more than shocking” as he is struggling to “make ends meet” due to being unable to return to England due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s insulting to be asked for two years [study] again,” he added.
The teacher was subsequently told he could have completed his induction in Ireland as regulations were changed during the pandemic allowing teachers to enter the Irish education system without having completed their induction abroad.
TRA officer Philip Gallagher told the inquiry that the paperwork provided by the teacher was not authentic as the certificate stated his instruction was ‘complete’ if the TRA used the word ‘pass’.
The teacher’s former headmaster at a school in England where he taught between September 2019 and March 2020 gave evidence that his alleged handwriting on a form presented to the Teaching Council was fake.
The principal said he did not answer a specific question about the teacher’s performance on the form provided because of “concerns about his class management”.
https://www.independent.ie/news/teacher-who-falsified-certificates-in-order-to-work-in-ireland-says-he-got-caught-up-in-a-terrible-web-of-lies-41512115.html Teacher who forged certificates to work in Ireland says he was ‘ensnared in a terrible web of lies’