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North-east teacher reprimanded after showing pupils exam questions

Tunde Szombathy taught religious education at Mackie Academy.
Tunde Szombathy taught religious education at Mackie Academy.

A north-east teacher who showed pupils exam questions ahead of an assessment has avoided being struck off the register.

Tunde Szombathy faced a hearing General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS) hearing after giving fourth-year youngsters at Mackie Academy sight of the Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies.

It happened just before the school holidays in December 2017 with the preliminary exam due to take place at the end of January 2018.

Mackie Academy in Stonehaven.

Szombathy admitted the allegation that she shared the questions with the pupils, who had taken photos of the questions during a class.

The exam was supposed to held under strict conditions replicating the traditional exams usually operated by the SQA.

She gave evidence during the GTCS hearing and said she initially denied the allegations because she was “stressed.”

‘Hardest months of her life’

Szombathy told the GTCS she had arrived at the Stonehaven secondary school in August 2017 but found “social and professional isolation” due to being new to the area and Hungarian.

She said it was “the hardest few months of her life” and she was suffering from personal and health issues.

The GTCS report said: “She was suffering from various personal and health issues at the time and considered this to be the hardest few months of her life. She lost her self-confidence.

She considered that it was hard for the older children to accept her because of her accent and because of where she was from. She accepted that she had a lack of familiarity with the Scottish education system generally.”

Szombathy was “confused, lonely, anxious, isolated and doubted her ability as a teacher.”

Legal representative John Muir

The GTCS said during the hearing Szombathy was “a credible and reliable witness” and acknowledged she had made a mistake.

It said she was motivated to help the children but did not make excuses for her actions.

‘Doubted her ability’

The report on the watchdog’s decision said: “She stated that she denied the allegations at first because she was stressed.

“She accepted that she required further training and support before she could return to teaching.  She now accepted that the prelim questions should have remained confidential ahead of the exam.”

Szombathy’s representative John Muir said she had not even been a teacher for six months at the time adding she was “confused, lonely, anxious, isolated and doubted her ability as a teacher.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s Woodhill House.

After hearing all of the evidence the GTCS said a reprimand should be recorded on the Hungarian national’s teacher registration for one year.

It said: “The teacher had reflected on the matter, shown genuine remorse and had taken steps to properly address the issues.

“It also considered that the matter represented an isolated incident and there had been no repetition of the matter at issue since the incident concerned; there was evidence attesting to the good character and history of the teacher.”

Aberdeenshire Council said they noted the GTCS decision but do not comment on matters concerning employees.

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