Parents stunned by independent probe into cheating claims at Hackney’s Cardinal Pole school

Parents have spoken of their shock after an official probe was launched into claims of cheating at a Hackney secondary school.

Independent investigators are examining allegations that teachers at Cardinal Pole lower school in Victoria Park Road were ordered to falsify assessment results to demonstrate to Ofsted inspectors that pupils had made progress.

The school’s board of governors launched the inquiry after the National Union of Teachers (NUT) questioned the reported demands and called for action.

Parents standing at the school gates this week shared their anguish.

“For them to have started an investigation there’s got to be some hard evidence there – and that’s really bad,” said Miss J. Eastmond, 43, whose daughter started at the school this term.

“Why would they want to do that? Why would they put these kids up high and say they’ve got this grade when really they haven’t? What’s that showing them?”

Another parent said: “I would not have expected this at a Catholic school – it’s supposed to have discipline and principles. I’m really shocked.”

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The allegations refer to teacher assessments, which do not affect GCSE results but are considered by Ofsted, which said it took the claims “very seriously”.

Cardinal Pole received a “satisfactory” rating in March.

The school has denied any wrongdoing and sent out letters to parents informing them of the investigation before half term. Headteacher Katherine Hartigan said the reports cast “an unwarranted shadow over our pupils’ achievements”.

The Learning Trust and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster, which both oversee the school, said they supported the governors’ decision for an investigation. It will be conducted by Bob Anderson and his findings are due to be released at the end of the month.

Mark Lushington, Hackney NUT’s representative, said he welcomed the investigation, adding: “Were the allegations to be substantiated, then I think a number of senior members of staff would have to reconsider their position.”