first_imgA mother who could no longer afford to pay private school fees asked a council worker to forge documents to get her daughter into a leading state school, a tribunal heard yesterday.Bernadette Hendrickson, a former education coordinator for Cardiff Council, agreed to fake official forms in order to mislead a top primary school in Newport into thinking that the five-year-old was in care.The school was told that the girl, who was transferring from an £8,568-a-year independent school , was a “looked after child” – meaning her education was supervised by council officials.Hendrickson, from Cardiff, who was sacked over the incident, agreed to the scam after a close friend failed on two occasions to get her daughter accepted into the primary school, which is oversubscribed. Case presenter Cadi Dewi added: “Hendrickson suggested to the mother they tell a white lie that the council shared responsibility for her daughter.”[She] said the daughter was a ‘Looked After Child’ and submitted a form to the council. Having sent that form off on behalf of the mother Hendrickson maintained that false information after a place was given to the girl at the school.”The school and the local authority found out about the lie, but not until after the child had begun attending the school.The child was asked to leave the school and Hendrickson was suspended from work.”This was not a momentary lapse of judgement. They were actions that took place over a number of days and weeks.” Under Welsh social care guidelines, children classed as ‘looked after’ are supposed to be given  priority places in schools – even when year groups are at or over capacity.However, officials at the primary school quickly became suspicious and launched an investigation, finding that Hendrickson had fraudulently named a social worker who she had claimed was responsible for looking after the girl’s welfare.The 50-year-old was later sacked by the council. Bernadette Dickinson claimed that she forged the documents in order to help her friend who was struggling with tuition feesCredit:Wales News A disciplinary hearing held by the Welsh Education Workforce Council was told how the education coordinator had offered to tell “a white lie” so that her friend’s daughter could circumvent the lengthy school waiting list.Caseworkers said that Hendrickson’s actions had potentially cost other children a place at the school, adding that girl involved suffered “confusion and embarrassment”, as she was removed from her new class just days after enrolling.center_img Colin Adkins, representing Hendrickson, said: “The mother was not an unwilling actor in this. Text messages show her actively chasing Hendrickson into doing what she did. She was badgering her.”Giving her own account,  Hendrickson said that she had acted dishonestly because knew that the mother couldn’t afford to pay the independent school’s fees.“At the time I thought what I did was right. In hindsight now I don’t think it was,” she told the hearing.”The way I went about it was wrong. If I’d thought about it from the beginning and was of clear mind I wouldn’t have done it.”She added that she had owned up to the forgery after it was exposed, and was now hoping to return to a teaching job.Admitting unacceptable professional misconduct, she was given a four-month suspension order banning her from teaching until July 31. Bernadette Dickinson claimed that she forged the documents in order to help her friend who was struggling with tuition fees Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img