Skip to main content

Check results of pupils taught by teacher-examiners for cheating, exam boards told

Ofqual unveils proposals to clamp down on potential for teacher-examiners to cheat

News article image

Ofqual unveils proposals to clamp down on potential for teacher-examiners to cheat

Exam boards should monitor the results of students taught by teachers who have helped set exam questions, Ofqual has said, as the regulator revealed its proposals for cracking down on the potential for teacher-examiners to engage in teaching.

The regulator also said boards could monitor teacher-examiners’ lesson plans and formative assessments to check they had not tried to give their pupils an unfair advantage.

Last summer the assessment system was plunged into controversy after teacher-examiners at two elite private schools were accused of leaking questions to their students ahead of their tests.

Eton College's deputy headmaster left the school following an investigation by Cambridge International Examinations, amid claims that he leaked questions from a Pre-U economics exam which he had helped set. A teacher at Winchester College was also suspended in relation to similar claims.

Following the incidents Ofqual announced it would review the practice of teachers contributing to exam papers while teaching the same qualification.

Ofqual safeguarding

Launching a consultation on its proposals today, Ofqual said it wanted to strengthen its regulation by “explicitly” setting out the steps which exam boards must take to safeguard against the potential for teacher-examiner abuses. Updated statutory guidance will also spell out ways boards can comply with the rules.

Awarding bodies will have to review their safeguards to “effectively mitigate the risks” posed by teacher-examiners.

Boards will have to “detect malpractice”, for example, by sampling the results of students taught by teachers with prior knowledge of papers to look for “unusual patterns”.

The consultation also suggests that they could sample teacher-examiners’ lesson plans and formative assessments to look for signs they had narrowed their teaching. 

GCSEs and A levels have already been written for this summer’s exams, so Ofqual said that safeguards for 2018 would have to “focus on deterring and detecting malpractice and on supporting teachers.

'Significant progress'

Subject to the outcome of the consultation, it said it expected boards to have made “significant progress” in updating their safeguards by summer 2019, and to have “fully revised” their approaches by 2020.

Sally Collier, Ofqual’s chief regulator, said: “Almost universally, respondents to our call for evidence emphasised the importance of retaining a strong link between teaching and examining, and the benefit it brings to assessment design.”

She added: “However, the events of summer 2017 showed how public confidence in assessments and, in turn, qualifications, can be damaged if confidential information is wrongly used.

“It is essential that those who take or otherwise rely on qualifications have upmost confidence in the outcomes.”

Ofqual’s consultation closes on 25 April.

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and like Tes on Facebook

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you