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Exam malpractice by school staff up by 149%

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    'The number of penalties given to school and college staff for exam malpractice has risen by 149 per cent this year, figures published by Ofqual today reveal.

    In total, there were 895 penalties issued to school and college staff for malpractice with GCSEs and A-levels in 2017, compared to 360 in 2016 - a rise of 149 per cent.

    The number of penalties issued to students has also increased by a quarter – from 2,180 in 2016 to 2,715 in 2017, according to a new report from the exams watchdog.’


    What are your views about the staggering increase in exam malpractice by school staff? What do you think needs to done to curb the problem?
  2. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter


    I'm really staggered how low it is for both teachers and students.

    Clearly, OFQUAL do not have sufficient staff or processes in place to investigate or the student caught numbers would be in the tens of thousands. Cheating by students in the GCSE ICT and Computer Science courses alone would account for massively more than this as controlled assessment cheating is endemic. It's just OFQUAL don't want to know and even if they did, they don't have the resources to attack the problem robustly. The whole system is based on trust, which is stupid given the high stakes played for by teachers and schools with league tables now.

    OFQUAL acknowledged endemic cheating in last year's coursework in my subject. Next week, they will totally cancel the coursework part of all Computer Science GCSEs, but NOT ONE SINGLE STUDENT OR TEACHER has been sanctioned.

    OFQUAL are a chocolate teapot when it comes to policing public qualifications.

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
    stonerose, JohnJCazorla and TCSC47 like this.
  3. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    Cause and Effect analysis.

    If the effect is " the staggering increase in exam malpractice by school staff", then we need to know what the causal factors are, that convince the staff they need to do it.

    Realistic expectations

    In the real world, rather than attempting to 're-invent the wheel', computer programmers often take existing code and 're-purpose' it, to suit their needs. That tends to be viewed as 'common sense' rather than 'plagiarism'.

    Some students fail to see the distinction between what may be acceptable in the real world, and what is deemed to be acceptable for the coursework.

    OCR issued a 'Coding Challenges' booklet, containing an assortment of coding tasks. None of the coding tasks had any 'suggested solutions'. So where does a teacher or student look in order to find a solution? Online? In a text book? From a colleague? Wherever you get it from, if you then go on to use that suggested solution, it amounts to plagiarism.

    There is also the issue that each class will contain students of mixed abilities. This means less able students feel pressured into seeking help with something they are struggling with, knowing it contributes towards their overall marks, rather than accept they are unable to complete a given task.
  4. nixmith

    nixmith Occasional commenter

    This is the result of a 'perfect storm' comprising: austerity & pay freezes, league tables & academies, house price rises & performance related pay, all inter-related.

    Twenty years or so ago, when I was starting out in my teaching career, there was some politics and 'tittle tattle' relating to who did what and for what pay, in my school, but most people were relatively happy. The job security was second-to-none and most teachers could save a deposit and get onto the housing ladder and expect at least inflation-linked pay increases in the years ahead. The job was only just embracing standard business practice such as 'appraisal' and performance 'thresholds'. I was practically waved through all the performance levels and teachers close to retirement were often eased towards that, with spurious job titles guaranteed to give them low stress and a final salary bump, as a sort of reward for long service.

    Contrast that with now, the in-fighting and back-stabbing (among young people especially) trying to get some sort of pay bump to help them buy a house. The numerous incidents on here of older staff, competent for many years suddenly finding themselves on 'support programmes' etc. The whole ethos where the pupils must be given every help necessary to get them to pass - holiday and Saturday morning sessions, for example. Exam malpractice is just an unfortunate extension of that, I don't condone it of course, I'm just saying.

    What can be done to curb the problem? Nothing really, except build a time machine, go back a dozen years and stop America c0cking up the world economy whilst getting the teaching Unions to do something and actually justify the millions of pounds that teachers have paid to them, over the years. Ha!

    Wow, I have done a whole post without once mentioning Brexit, oh hang on....
    phlogiston and JohnJCazorla like this.
  5. teselectronic

    teselectronic New commenter

    They're cheating themselves, send a loud and clear message.
  6. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Make it illegal to collect or publish school exam results in League Tables, or use them in Performance Management processes, and I suspect cheating by schools would disappear pretty quickly.
  7. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    I don't think that it would - too many know no different.
  8. tonymars

    tonymars Occasional commenter

    Nixsmith - 'Twenty years or so ago, when I was starting out in my teaching career, there was some politics and 'tittle tattle' relating to who did what and for what pay, in my school, but most people were relatively happy. The job security was second-to-none and most teachers could save a deposit and get onto the housing ladder and expect at least inflation-linked pay increases in the years ahead.'

    You're right! how strange this seems now.:(
    stonerose and schoolsout4summer like this.
  9. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

  10. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Lead commenter

  11. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Lead commenter

    It is distressing and totally unacceptable to me to see such exam cheating.

    As FrankW says, League tables with Name, Blame and Shame.

    However, I think the dreadfully low morale of the teaching profession is partly to blame.
    - the incompetence we see in the people who have set the agenda in education over the past ten years or so.
    - the acadamisation of schools which was simply to mask the dissolution of LEAs and which has allowed some at the top to unscrupulously scoop up a large payday.
    - OFSTED who frighten the life out of teachers and offer no support.
    -the sheer exhaustion I see in teachers from overwork and lack of appreciation.
    - for young teachers, student loans hanging over their heads and the raising of the retirement age.
    - not relevant to young teachers alone, but the difficulties for young people in obtaining a mortgage or having to pay extortionate rents, whilst my golden baby boomer generation have had it all and throw it in their faces.

    But maybe the media have some responsibility in destroying the morale of teachers, your TES report being a prime example.
    "Exam malpractice by school staff up by 48%"
    This being your font and size of the title of your article. - So I dread to think what the gutter rags have said.

    Almost 5 million GCSEs and 840 thousand A levels taken in 2016 so the number of cheaters, 388, is in fact minuscule and maybe could even be argued to be a measure of how ethical and professional the teaching profession is compared to anything else in the UK.

    To manage to work up the 48% increase figure (or to repeat it) is an irresponsible misuse of statistics. This ranks along side my waking up to the Radio 4 Today program a few years ago, to be told that "half of the UK's maths students are below average attainment.".

    To curb the "problem"? - Create a society that values teachers and gives them the resources they need to teach. Pie in the Sky!
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
    Avalicious likes this.
  12. nervousned

    nervousned Established commenter

    Up by 149% not 48%, ie more than doubled
  13. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    It's shocking and disgusting, it's those students who work really hard and play by the rules that I feel for, where is their reward when grades are artificially inflated but cheats getting away with it. Grrr.
  14. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Lead commenter

    Correct. I'm not sure how my copy and paste lost the "1" but my argument still holds. The number of cheats has increased by about a few hundred in almost 6 million exam sitters.
  15. moscowbore

    moscowbore Occasional commenter

    Dear TCSC47,
    What is your definition of cheat?
    Do you refer to the number of reported cases?

    Last year, my last as a teacher, I personally witnessed entire year groups being coached through "controlled" assessments in multiple subjects. I refused to coach my students so my results were poorer.

    The computer science controlled assessments have been made null and void due to the wholesale, and now public, cheating which has gone on and been ignored by exam boards for years. That means thousands of incidences of cheating have been acknowledged.

    Cheating has become acceptable, normal , even demanded , in schools. To deny this would be pathetic.
    geordiepetal likes this.
  16. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Yes, but look on the bright side, coursework malpractice which was at epidemic proportions has been largely eliminated!

    However, without the easy route of cheating on coursework, you can pretty much guarantee there'll be a hefty rise in other means of cheating.
  17. flishflash

    flishflash New commenter

    When some Computer Science authors, who also work for OCR, wrote a textbook, in which questions from their textbook appeared in exam papers, OCR investigated themselves and the OCR verdict was that they were innocent of all charges. Strangely, schools who bought the expensive book were not deemed to have had an advantage. Strangely, OCR decided that there was not any incentive for schools to buy the textbook. Amazingly, the authors were allowed to continue as if nothing happened, presumably because they would be hard to replace.

    One way to reduce the number of students proven to be cheating in an exam is for each caught and accused student to be allowed to investigate themselves and issue their own verdict on themselves. :)
  18. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    Although one cannot condone 'cheating' by staff, since the price of not doing so is spelt J-O-B, I can understand why some bow to pressure to do so.
  19. num3bers

    num3bers Occasional commenter

    I have been reading through the articles to find exactly what malp0ractices are going on. It seems the use of mobile phones is one.......

    the other seems to be those instances where teachers have set the exam questions and then told their classes what was on the paper......

    the third coursework ( which I am guessing probably includes times#d assessments etc..

    I had to look because I have no means of cheating for my students in my subject - 100% exam based, and I do not examine either

    I know that coursework has always been subject to issues ( even now in the BTech , or whatever they are calling it now) and in art and photography and similar subjects.

    I also know the pressures. Its not just the school and results,. results results, its the SLT who will take your job for a mistake and the parents who want Timmy to do well ( better than they have the ability to do).

    Hell, I am in trouble right now for putting down on a report that I had insufficient independent work for a student to allow me to make an assessment of their ability in my subject. I was told to change it. I then looked up what my colleagues had written and wrote something similar - and now I have been disciplined for daring to say the same as everyone else. You cannot make it up these days.

    I can recall the days when we had books full of specimen letters and reports etc. which we could copy/change to suit needs.
  20. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    I'm guessing you have to adequately report an issue of say mobile phones in order to recieve a penalty... hmmm.

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