A teacher never forgets

30th June 1995 at 01:00
Diane Hofkins' article "Cheating 'rife' in national tests" (TES, June 16) is misinformed. In fact, teachers in secondary schools also have access to examination papers for between a week and a fortnight prior to the key stage 3 examinations.

The suggestion that the so-called "cheating" was confined largely to the primary sector is liable to be extremely misleading.

But this is not the point. It is important to understand that it is the examination authorities that are at fault in placing teachers in a wholly invidious position. Either they abide by conscience and the rules and risk seeing their pupils disadvantaged on exam day; or they do what they suspect everyone else might be tempted to do and allow their knowledge of the papers to seep into their last-minute revision.

What else are they to do - they cannot erase knowledge already acquired, and it would be almost perverse to revise in total defiance of it.

The villains of the piece are the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the Department for Education in countenancing this absurd arrangement. Their excuse - that teachers need prior notice of exam-paper contents to make "special arrangements" - doesn't stand up to the mildest scrutiny.

The teachers I have spoken to in search of a logical explanation offer something much more scurrilous but much more convincing.

JOHN STEADMAN 14 Garrigill Fatfield Washington Tyne and Wear

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