Inspectors taught how to catch a cheat

Watchdog runs secret training sessions for local authorities. Julie Henry reports

INSPECTORS have received secret training in cheat-detection techniques following a rise in allegations of fiddling in national tests.

The Government's exam watchdog has given extra guidance to local authority staff who police national tests for 11 and 14-year-olds.

Local education authority inspectors make monitoring visits to at least 10 per cent of schools before and during tests to check that rules are being followed.

As The TES revealed in May, some teachers were bending the rules to boost their pupils' scores.

In the run-up to the tests, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority held three regional conferences where experts told LEA staff how to spot ruses employed by teachers and pupils.

A QCA spokesman said the techniques had to be kept secret so cheating teachers were not alerted.

"The conference was the first of its kind. The intense interest in such cases last year made it an opportune time to discuss these issues with LEAs," he said.

Reported cheating cases rose from 147 in 2000 to 270 last year. They include the case of Newcastle headteacher Helen Quick who admitted doctoring maths answer papers but was given permission to continue teaching by the General Teaching Council.

It has also been revealed that 2,000 claims of cheating in GCSE and A-level exams were investigated last year.

Complaints included pupils talking in the exam room, copying and notes being smuggled in. George Turnbull, spokesman for the Joint Council for General Qualifications, said mobile phones were a problem again this year, despite warnings to pupils following a high-profile case last year. A Bristol student was disqualified when his mother rang him during a GCSE exam.

Most of the malpractice cases, arising out of about seven million GCSE and A-level sittings, involved students and not teachers.

However, this year at least two allegations of cheating by staff have emerged. A teacher from Charterhouse, the Surrey independent school, resigned last week after admitting that his GCSE coursework marks were fake.

And a London teacher and her husband are on police bail following claims that a maths GCSE paper was stolen from a school in Croydon, Surrey and used to coach pupils at a private tutorial college.

A London teacher and her husband are on police bail following claims that a maths GCSE paper was stolen from a school and used to coach pupils at a private tutorial college.

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