A NATIONWIDE inquiry is to be carried out into exam cheating after it emerged last night that another school head in the region is being investigated over allegations of irregularities.

The headteacher of a North Yorkshire primary school has been suspended from his duties by the local education authority while the allegations are investigated.

And amid fears of the growing pressure on schools to do well in the Government's league tables, MPs are to take up the issue of alleged cheating in the Commons.

An all-party group of MPs is set to investigate claims of rigging in national tests, amid mounting concern about the stress teachers face as they try to ensure that their school's results improve for the sake of league table positions.

Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Commons education select committee, said the "worrying trend" would be the subject of an investigation when parliament resumed after the summer recess.

The move comes less than two months after Helen Quick quit as the head of Wyndham Primary at Newcastle after confessing to her bosses that she had altered answers in her pupils' Standard Assessment Test papers.

Union leaders said at the time that her desperate attempt came because she was under so much pressure to meet the Government's education standards and score well in their "dysfunctional" league tables.

Yesterday, it emerged that the head of Kirkby and Great Broughton CE Primary, near Stokesley - Dave Scott -was suspended from his duties on June 12 over allegations of irregularities in this year's maths tests for 11-year-olds.

North Yorkshire County Council confirmed the allegations had been made and were still under investigation.

"The head teacher has been suspended while the matter is fully investigated," said a spokesman.

"Precautionary suspension is a normal step in such circumstances to enable the inquiries to be carried out.

"Local education authority officers are working with the governors to complete the inquiries as quickly as possible."

The spokesman added: "We would like to stress that the allegations do not relate to the safety or well-being of the children."

Mr Scott could not be contacted last night but local district councillor Margaret Skilbeck said: "The continued excellent standard of education at the school is at the forefront of all our minds at the moment.

"We are all working together in the best interests of the children."

The exam watchdog, the Qualification and Curriculum Authority, has investigated about 100 alleged cases of misconduct and taken action in about 20 of them.

They have quashed the SATs results in a number of schools, including Hanover Primary in Islington and Merstham in Redhill, Surrey, after deciding they could not be said to have been all the children's own work.

Earlier this summer, The Northern Echo revealed thousands of SAT papers sent for re-marking came back with higher grades.

Up to 75 per cent of maths papers re-submitted to the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance in Newcastle last year had been unfairly marked.

More than half of the key stage three English papers for 14-year-olds also contained errors, along with 62 per cent of science papers.

Unions branded the figure as the tip of the iceberg, because budget-conscious schools were reluctant to fork out £5 per paper for re-marking.

The National Association of Headteachers has already called for the tests to be abolished.