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Gordonstoun teacher struck off for exam e-mail cheating

27 April 10 15:46 GMT

A teacher at one of Scotland's top fee-paying schools which counts Prince Charles among former pupils has been struck off for helping pupils cheat.

Eric Tessier-Lavigne, 51, was a French teacher at Gordonstoun School near Elgin in Moray when claims emerged.

He was found guilty by the General Teaching Council of Scotland of revealing in e-mails what topics would appear in GCSE exams.

He had denied any intent to give the pupils an unfair advantage.

Mr Tessier-Lavigne sent e-mails which included the words "for your eyes only" and "destroy after reading" to pupils, the General Teaching Council for Scotland disciplinary sub-committee heard.

But he said the topics mentioned in the e-mails were areas in which pupils needed to improve, and not a hint over what they could expect.

The committee, sitting in Edinburgh, was told the teacher admitted he sent the e-mails but denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Tessier-Lavigne told the hearing: "When someone says 'for your eyes only' and 'private', it grabs their attention. You hope that it grabs their attention."

He said the use of language in the e-mails was "theatrical hyperbole".

During questioning by his solicitor, Andrew Gibb, Mr Tessier-Lavigne said: "My use of language in a flippant or cavalier way has backfired for me."

Mr Gibb asked: "Were you giving the youngsters an unfair advantage?"

Mr Tessier-Lavigne answered: "No."

'Accept this mission'

He told the committee: "With hindsight, I regret using hyperbolic and over-inflated language to draw their attention to these e-mails."

Referring to using the phrase "destroy after reading" in the e-mails, Mr Tessier-Lavigne said: "It's like James Bond public school-ism. Should you choose to accept this mission..."

Asked whether it was "coincidence" that topics he chose on the day of the exams were the same as some of those mentioned in the e-mails, Mr Tessier-Lavigne said: "Yes."

Mr Gibb told the committee before it retired to consider its decision that, while the conduct did "fall below" the conduct expected of teachers, Mr Tessier-Lavigne should not be struck off the register.

However Paul Marshall, solicitor for the General Teaching Council for Scotland, told the committee: "The conduct represents a very serious form of relevant misconduct.

"I submit that it is not professional conduct for that type of language to be used in e-mails to pupils.

"His overall conduct damages the reputation of the teaching profession."

The council rejected Mr Tessier-Lavigne's arguments and decided the offence warranted the most serious sanction open to them.

Prince Charles and Prince Andrew are former pupils of the school.

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