Man used fake qualifications to get job teaching science at secondary school

Mr Ferguson lied in his job appliaction.
Mr Ferguson lied in his job appliaction. -Credit:Rob Browne

A man got a job at a school after lying about being a qualified teacher.

Adrian Ferguson was a science teacher at Cardiff West Community High School in Ely for months before it emerged that he had made a series of false claims in his application.

Mr Ferguson applied for the job in 2020 and claimed that he had no criminal matters pending against him. He then started working at the school that September but a month later the school had yet to receive his Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate, reports Wales Online.

After the October half-term Mr Ferguson finally provided the school with a copy of the certificate, which revealed that while working for another school, Peak Academy in Gloucestershire, he was involved in a 2019 incident that had led to a police investigation.

It emerged that Mr Ferguson was awaiting trial over a charge of encouraging violence between two Peak Academy pupils aged 13 and 15, who were alleged to have "engaged in a physical fight in his presence".

When Cardiff West headteacher Martin Hulland called him in for a meeting about the issue in early November 2020, Mr Ferguson claimed the incident had been "blown out of proportion", that it was a "witch hunt", and that the court case would be a "formality".

In December 2020 Cardiff West allowed Mr Ferguson to have time off work due to the criminal case.

In February 2021 the case was dropped as the Crown Prosecution Service said that there was not enough evidence for "a realistic prospect of a conviction".

But Cardiff West suspended Mr Ferguson in March 2021 and appointed an independent investigator to look into why he had not disclosed the police investigation and court case when applying for the Cardiff job.

"Mr Ferguson acknowledged that he should have ticked the box and shared the information about the incident," said the Education Workforce Council (EWC) in its report on the misconduct. "However, he said that he had felt under a lot of pressure and was extremely stressed due to lack of communication from the police, health concerns and financial pressures."

Mr Ferguson, who was registered with the EWC as a school learning support worker and further education teacher, had also made other false claims in his application to Cardiff West.

He wrote that he had an MA and BA in history and a postgraduate certificate in education with qualified teacher status, all from "Newport University Caerleon Campus".

However, the University of South Wales confirmed that its only record of a qualification for Mr Ferguson was a 2:2 in a sports science BSc. It turned out that in fact he had no qualified teacher status, which was a requirement for his role at Cardiff West. He had been "dishonest" in his attempt to get a role that would see him paid as a qualified teacher, the EWC found.

The hearing was told Mr Ferguson worked at Cardiff West for "approximately eight months" and left the school after a disciplinary hearing in late 2021. Shortly afterwards he applied for a cover supervisor job at yet another school, Forest High School in Gloucestershire, but did not mention that he had recently been employed by Cardiff West.

The EWC found this omission was "misleading" and "lacking in integrity". It was also discovered that in his application to Forest High he had "doctored" an outcome letter from a disciplinary hearing from his time at Peak Academy, removing "negative comments.".

Following a fitness to practise hearing, the EWC described the misconduct as "egregious" and imposed an indefinite prohibition order against Mr Ferguson.

It means he is unable to work as a school learning support worker or further education teacher in Wales. He is also unable to work as a school teacher, because he is "not registered or indeed qualified for that role", said the EWC. The regulator added that Mr Ferguson will not be able to apply for restoration to the EWC register for five years, and would then need to satisfy a committee of his eligibility.

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