Gal­lop­ing gourmet

Awol teacher told her to mark ma­tric cook­ing exam

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By PREGA GOVENDER

Teacher leaves cleaner to mark ma­tric cook­ing exam

A con­sumer stud­ies teacher has re­signed from an Ekurhu­leni high school af­ter he got a school cleaner to in­vig­i­late and mark a ma­tric prac­ti­cal exam — while he took pupils to a soc­cer match.

Last month the cleaner found her­self tast­ing dishes pre­pared by ma­tric pupils at Benoni High School in Gaut­eng, and al­lo­cat­ing marks to them.

Eight pupils had to redo their fi­nal prac­ti­cal exam af­ter their par­ents com­plained to the school about the un­usual ar­range­ment.

The dishes in­cluded quiche, lasagne, spaghetti bolog­naise, Swiss roll, choco­late éclairs and pumpkin frit­ters. She awarded marks out of 10 for ap­pear­ance, taste and tex­ture.

Marks were al­lo­cated sep­a­rately for in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the recipe, use of equip­ment, ef­fec­tive time use and neat­ness of work sta­tions.

The cleaner, who iden­ti­fied her­self only as Lu­cia, de­clined to com­ment this week. But a teacher at the school said the woman had told him she had been sur­prised when con­sumer stud­ies teacher Neil Sen­neck asked her “to watch over” the class, taste the dishes they made and award marks.

“She was sur­prised be­cause she had been clean­ing the kitchen for five years and no teacher had asked her to do that,” the teacher said.

“She ini­tially thought he was ask­ing her to take charge of his class for a short while be­cause he was go­ing to see the head­mas­ter, but she ended up stay­ing for the full three-hour du­ra­tion of the prac­ti­cal.

“She said she re­gret­ted what she did be­cause it got her into trou­ble. The prin­ci­pal told her she must refuse if any­body asks her to do some­thing,” the teacher said.

He said Lu­cia had awarded two pupils six out of 10 — the high­est mark she gave — for their spaghetti bolog­naise be­cause “it tasted fine”. Lu­cia told the teacher she was fa­mil­iar with pre­par­ing spaghetti bolog­naise and pumpkin frit­ters as she made them at home.

“She gave a mark of four for the pumpkin frit­ters be­cause there was too much cin­na­mon and it was not cooked in­side.”

The mark for Septem­ber’s prac­ti­cal, as well as for an­other prac­ti­cal com­pleted ear­lier in the year, com­prised 25% of the fi­nal mark for con­sumer stud­ies.

An­other teacher at the school said: “What Mr Sen­neck did was fraud­u­lent and to­tally un­eth­i­cal. It’s grossly un­ac­cept­able be­cause this is go­ing to af­fect their fi­nal mark.”

A par­ent of one of the pupils called Sen­neck’s ac­tions “bizarre”.

“It’s an ab­so­lute dis­grace. The chil­dren were very up­set be­cause some scored a high mark dur­ing the prac­ti­cal when the cleaner was present, while they scored a lower mark af­ter they did it the sec­ond time.”

Sen­neck, who was also a soc­cer coach at the school, used to lec­ture at the school of tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg. He joined Benoni High last year. He did not re­spond to calls and an SMS this week.

Danie van Rens­burg, a spokesman for the school’s gov­ern­ing body, said the gov­ern­ing body and the school man­age­ment were aware of the in­ci­dent and that “im­me­di­ate re­me­dial ac­tion was taken”.

He said: “As the mat­ter is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, we are un­able to make any com­ments at this early stage.” Gaut­eng ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment spokesman Steve Mabona said the depart­ment was con­cerned about the al­le­ga­tions.

“Un­for­tu­nately, in­ves­ti­ga­tions could not be con­cluded as the said ed­u­ca­tor has since re­signed. We strongly con­demn such ed­u­ca­tor mis­con­duct,” Mabona said.

Neil Sen­neck

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