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Coursework all our own work, say teachers

Rule-breaking by staff has contributed to the likely disappearance of coursework from most GCSEs and A-levels, The TES understands.

England's exams regulator is taking seriously allegations that teachers are now under so much pressure to raise results that many virtually write coursework for pupils. And many staff admit this.

It accepts that coursework in most subjects cannot co-exist with a system in which teachers are held accountable for their results by performance management and league tables.

Discussions at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) suggest that coursework will be scrapped from all GCSEs and A-levels within four years, except in those subjects, such as art, music and design, which can make a good case for its inclusion.

The QCA is working closely with its counterparts in other UK countries and many Welsh schools use English exam boards subject to QCA guidance.

Performance tables were scrapped in Wales in 2001.

As GCSEs and A-levels began this week, a TES poll revealed the continuing popularity of coursework among parents. More than three-quarters of the 500 parents surveyed by FDS International said it should continue to be part of GCSE assessment, with only one in six wanting it scrapped.

But the poll also raised questions over parental collaboration, with half of parents of Year 11 pupils admitting to helping.

Teachers confessed this month on the TES website to illegally extending deadlines, overlooking pupil plagiarism, and writing work for teenagers in their anxiety to raise the number of top grades.

Many teachers have suggested the pressure on them to improve results, which leads them to allow pupils multiple redrafts of their work, makes assessment a farce.

One said: "I'm busy marking GCSE coursework at the moment. I know full well that vast amounts of it is cut-and-paste, but I'm going to pretend I haven't noticed."

Another said: "We largely write and grade our own work."

Another said: "As an ICT teacher I cannot defend the now-accepted practice of doing the coursework for the pupils. My head of department reads out answers in lessons."

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