Pupils penalised for phones in GCSE and A-level exam rooms up 22%

Overall number of candidates docked marks for malpractice rises by 16 per cent compared with 2017

Will Hazell

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The number of penalties handed out for taking mobile phones into exams has risen by more than a fifth, according to new figures.

Data published by exams regulator Ofqual today on "malpractice" in GCSEs, AS and A-level exams for the 2018 summer series shows that 1,295 penalties were handed out for taking mobiles into exams, compared with 1,060 in 2017 – an increase of 22 per cent. 

Taking unauthorised materials – including phones – into the exam room was the most common type of pupil malpractice reported in 2018, also rising by 22 per cent in 2018 compared with 2017.

Mobile phones were by far the most common unauthorised material, accounting for 75 per cent of such penalties.

In total, punishments for having mobile phones accounted for 47 per cent of all student penalties handed out in 2018.

Taking a mobile into an exam was usually punished by a loss of marks, which explains the 16 per cent increase in this type of penalty in 2018.

However, the overall number of malpractice penalties issued to students remained stable: 2,735 penalties were issued to students in 2018, compared with 2,740 in 2017.

There was also a big fall in the number of penalties issued to school and college staff, which dropped from 1,030 in 2017 to 620 this year – a decrease of 40 per cent. 

Incidence of "school or college malpractice" – where there is evidence that malpractice is the result of a serious management failure and sanctions are applied against a whole department or school – was also down. Ninety-five such penalties were issued in 2018, compared with 165 in 2017.

Penalties issued for plagiarism decreased by 90 per cent compared with 2017, which Ofqual said "may be due to a fall in the number of non-exam assessments in GCSE subjects, particularly computer science, compared to last year".

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Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Will Hazell is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @whazell

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