Failed, because the teachers cheated

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The Independent Online

Cheats never prosper is one lesson that can be learnt from this year's primary league tables. Two schools ranked among the 10 worst primaries in the country got there because they tried to manipulate the system.

Fifteen other schools have been penalised for cheating or breaking the strict rules which govern the running of the tests. They have had points docked from the results of tests taken by 11-year-olds used to rank primaries in the official tables. The cheating has also ended the careers of several staff who blamed the pressure to meet targets for their lapse of judgement.

The two schools with this year's worst results had their scores reduced to zero after all their results were quashed by the exam watchdog, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). Hanover School in Islington, north London, had all its test results annulled after an inquiry into claims that children's answers had been tampered with. Cynthia Thumwood, headteacher for more than 20 years, has resigned. During her time at the school, Hanover's results had been among the borough's best.

Merstham Community Primary in Redhill, Surrey, met the same fate after a QCA investigation concluded the rules governing the administration of the tests had been broken and that some answers had been completed with the help of teachers.

Parents called for the resignation of the headteacher, Jill Vereycken, who is now on long-term sick leave. The school had jumped from 96th to ninth in Surrey's league tables since Ms Vereycken joined the school in September 1998. An interim headteacher is in charge