Tuesday, June 25

Lot of students tried to cheat in exams using phones



Unauthorised materials accounted for half of all students given penalties for cheating, the Ofqual figures for 2017 show.

Students smuggling mobile phones into exam halls are the reason for a sudden rise in the number of pupils caught cheating during last summer’s GCSE and A-level exams in England, according to official data.

The figures also show that the number of teachers and school staff involved in exam malpractice more than doubled between 2016 and 2017.

Ofqual, the exam regulator for England, said that the most common category of malpractice was the introduction of unauthorised materials into exam venues.

In most cases, this was a mobile phone or other electronic communications device, Ofqual said.

Unauthorised materials accounted for half of all students given penalties for cheating, and of those nearly 80% were due to the use of mobile phones. Plagiarism was the other major category, accounting for 17% of cases, with the majority in computing.

Here’s how technology is shaping the future of education

But Ofqual cautioned that the overall number of cheating cases remained low despite the 25% increase. The 2,715 penalties issued to students represent just 0.015% of exam entrants. In 2016 some 2,180 students were caught, a rate of just 0.011%.

The figures do not include the scandal over the Pre-U exams revealed by the Guardian last year.

In most cases students were punished with a reduction of marks or given a warning but 490 had their grades annulled. Students found with mobile phones were more likely to lose marks.

The sudden rise in teachers and other school and college staff involved is more concerning, with the number rising from 360 in 2016 to 895 last year after a change in response by the examination boards that offer A-levels and GCSEs.

Exam boards are more likely to issue formal written warnings for similar offences rather than informal advisory notes this year. This still involves a very small proportion of the total number of staff in England, Ofqual said.

In more than half of cases the teachers received written warnings, but 185 were required to undergo training, while 90 were barred from involvement in exams. Nearly a third of the cases were of teachers giving improper assistance to exam candidates.

Despite the rise in student and staff malpractice, the number of schools and colleges given punishments fell substantially, from 155 in 2016 to 120 last year.