UK examination boards under investigation

by Sara

Fortunately, we don't often hear about scams within the education sector in the UK although this week an inquiry has been launched in England and Wales due to claims that some examiners gave teachers "tips" on GCSE and A-level questions. Coincidentally in the USA, educators and students are still talking about the Long Island SAT scandal which was first revealed at the end of September 2011, although in this case, students were paying other students to sit SAT exams!

Back in the UK, The Daily Telegraph claims to have filmed an examiner telling teachers at a seminar which questions to expect. This has prompted the Education Secretary Michael Gove to order an official inquiry into the exam system.

The investigation found that teachers are paying up to £230 a day to attend seminars with chief examiners during which they are advised on exam questions and the exact wording that pupils should use to obtain higher marks. Two examiners have been suspended by the exam board WJEC although it insists the claims were due to a "misunderstanding" of its advice.

The Education Secretary said "Our exams system needs fundamental reform. The revelations confirm that the current system is discredited".

The findings could add to growing fears over the apparent fall in standards in British schools which has led to grade inflation in exams over the past decade.

At First Tutors we monitor all student requests and if we find that a student is asking a teacher to "do the assignment" for them or "write their essay" we immediately take action and warn the student and the teacher that we do not approve or support such unethical tactics. Appropriately, most teachers are aware of these practises and clearly state that they can help, give advice, revise and correct work but under no circumstances will they provide bespoke essay writing or "ready to present" assignments for a student. If we do detect that a teacher agrees to these practises we suspend the request and delete the tutor's account. We believe education to be a serious matter.

It seems that the current inquiry has a lot to do with exam boards as "businesses" and the need to maintain exam standards. Many experts believe there should be one regulated system. We welcome your comments.