SQA results: concerns over teacher malpractice

Scottish exams body expects to see a rise in allegations that teachers have given inappropriate help to students

Henry Hepburn

SQA results: concerns over teacher malpractice

Concerns have been raised that growing numbers of teachers are being investigated for providing improper levels of coaching to help pupils pass qualifications, according to Scotland’s chief examiner.

Dr Janet Brown, chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), said in a report that, while precise figures were not yet available, there was evidence of more teacher malpractice in the run-up to the 2017-18 exams, and work was continuing to investigate these cases.

This will likely mean an increase on last year's figures, when there were 108 allegations of malpractice, with 51 proven – up from the 18 proven cases in 2016.

In her report, Dr Brown wrote: “We continue to analyse coursework and exam performance, and we work with schools and colleges where there is a variation which is markedly different from the national pattern. This is to ensure equity and fairness across all candidates and all schools and colleges, and to reduce the incidence of malpractice.”

Teachers 'have had a confused guidance'

In a quote supplied to The Herald, she said that the exams body had a responsibility “to investigate where concerns of malpractice are raised and to maintain the integrity and standards of our qualifications”.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said: “Clearly deliberate malpractice is not acceptable and the SQA should address such where it occurs. However, there have been numerous changes to assessment requirements over the past few years and teachers have complained consistently about confused and sometimes contradictory guidance from the SQA, poor levels of support generally, an absence of exemplification and weak communications to schools from both Education Scotland and from the SQA.”

He added: “Perhaps, rather than threatening a big-stick approach, a commitment to support schools around understanding standards would be a more productive route for the SQA to adopt."

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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