Young teacher, 26, hanged herself after being accused of helping pupils cheat in GCSEs
By James Tozer
Last updated at 8:31 PM on 27th November 2009
A teacher suspended over claims she helped pupils cheat in their GCSE exams hanged herself – only to be exonerated after her death.
Vanessa Rann was distraught after being accused of giving children unfair help during their French oral examination.
She was sent home on full pay while an investigation into the allegations was carried out, with pupils facing the prospect of having their final grades changed.
Investigation: Miss Rann worked at Grange School and Sports College, Warmley
But days later, the French-born trainee teacher's body was found by her fiance at the home they shared. She was 26.
Yesterday an inquest into her death revealed the investigation went on to clear her of any wrongdoing.
Only in her first year of teaching, Miss Rann was apparently already a much-loved member of staff at Grange School and Sports College in Warmley, Bristol.
But she was struggling with the stress of her job and believed her head of department, Francesca Alcock, was trying to 'force her out', the hearing was told.
In May 2007, she was accused of giving unfair help to students taking their GCSE French oral and suspended.
In a statement read to Flax Bourton Coroner's Court, headteacher Steve Cook said she was also being investigated for inviting Year 11 pupils to an end-of-term party at her house as well as accusing Miss Alcock of 'trying to get her sacked'.
She met her union representative, Paul Hutchins, who told the hearing she was 'distressed' by the allegations but had told him she 'hadn't done anything wrong'.
He added: 'We talked about whether she wanted to continue teaching and she said she loved it, had a good relationship with the children and had made friends at the school.
'She said she found her position at the school challenging. She wanted to continue, but possibly at a different school.'
Mr Hutchins said Miss Rann was also under pressure because she had failed a teaching assessment.
But he said: 'At the time she gave me no cause for concern. She had a tremendous support network by her.'
Her fiance, Darren Proud, found her body in their garage in Fishponds, Bristol, on the morning of June 3, 2007.
Exam board Edexcel later ruled pupils had not unfairly benefited during the exams and there was no need to adjust the final marks.
Mr Proud told the hearing his fiancee had suffered depression before, but that 'things went wrong' following her suspension.
He added she had mentioned hanging herself in the past, prompting him to urge her to seek medical help.
'I thought it was just a silly comment and told her she shouldn't be thinking about stuff like that,' he said.
'I didn't expect her to do something like this because she was pretty strong, even though she would be down sometimes. All day she had been happy, so it came as a shock.'
The inquest heard the teacher had attempted suicide in 2000 and complained of work-related stress in November 2006, before seeing her GP for depression in early 2007. She then began taking anti-depressants.
Recording a verdict of suicide, Avon coroner Terence Moore said: 'She was going through extremely stressful circumstances and in her view her career wasn't steady.
'She did all the right things – she went to see her union rep and went to see her doctor. Putting all the things together, I'm sure beyond reasonable doubt she took her own life.'