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Coursework is not to blame

"Teachers rewriting coursework is on the increase. It might even be a national scandal." Discuss.

The quotation comes not from a student assignment but The Learning Game by teacher Jonathan Smith, published in 2000. More or less reluctantly, Smith blew the whistle on a "conspiracy" of pupils, parents, teachers and examiners, each with a vested interest in securing ever-improving exam results. Coursework, with its emphasis on self-directed learning and research, is peculiarly vulnerable to cheats, especially in the age of the internet. And, judging by our page 1 report, high-tech cheating is on the increase with thousands of exam candidates buying essays on-line.

Is there a scandal? Maybe. One answer might be to establish an independent system of external moderation, separate from the exam boards. Questions should also be asked about our results-obsessed system. But coursework should not be blamed.

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