20/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 05:51

Ofqual inquiry orders exam change

Category: Headlines

Published: 21st Dec 2011 10:56:29

Exam watchdog Ofqual has ordered the re-writing of an exam paper and threatens further action as it investigates reports that exam boards are giving unfair advice to teachers.

The watchdog's investigation found a "clear breach" of rules at a WJEC exam board seminar about a GCSE ICT paper.

The inquiry considered an immediate ban on such seminars for teachers, but will now review their future role.

Ofqual has also written to exam boards demanding tougher checks for errors.

The investigation by Ofqual followed claims in the Daily Telegraph that undercover filming showed that exam board seminars were giving unfair inside information to teachers about how to prepare for exams.

This first stage of the inquiry has now found that a seminar held by the WJEC exam board broke the rules and "compromises the planned exam".

As such the exam, due to be taken in January by 450 candidates at 11 schools in England and Wales, will be "withdrawn, amended and sat at a later date".

The exam board says a replacement paper will now be set for early March.

Other claims about unfair information being given to teachers have still to be investigated - with Ms Stacey saying that so far no further evidence of wrongdoing had been found.

Ofqual says it will consider concerns about a geography exam highlighted by the undercover recording, as part of its scrutiny of 52 hours of audio recordings from the newspaper.

The checks on exam papers due to be taken in January will be completed by the end of this week, says the inquiry report. They will then consider whether there is any evidence that the summer exams have been compromised.

Examiners faced questions from MPs on the education select committee last week about video footage published by the Daily Telegraph.

Examiners who had been suspended as a result of the secret filming told MPs of their regrets about using language such as "cheating".

Exam board bosses denied that there had been any compromising of the integrity of qualifications - with claims that this was one of the most transparent exam systems in the world.

The watchdog has also written to exam boards about another problem facing the exam boards this year, when mistakes were found in a series of exam papers.

Exam boards are being told to take a tougher approach to checking the accuracy of exam papers, after an Ofqual report found an "insufficient focus on quality early in the question paper process" and a "lack of clarity" about responsibility for checking papers.

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