Police had been called in to investigate any other exam leak after an unknown number of students had boost sight of a part of a GCSE spiritual studies (RS) paper closing month. It is the latest sequence of adverse safety breaches to hit summer tests in the latest years. Social media allows cheats to disseminate leaked questions speedy and without difficulty. Such is the extent of difficulty that evaluating examination malpractice is underneath manner; that’s because of the file later this summer. Hoaxes about leaked exam papers, once more shared widely on-line, have compounded students’ stress and anxiety.
The modern-day protection breach worried an AQA GCSE RS paper sat with the aid of lots of pupils on 20 May. One parent informed the Guardian several college students went home and said detail of the paper had been circulating on Snapchat ahead of the examination. AQA confirmed that police had been contacted, and an investigation became under manner. The examination board stated simplest one web page changed into affected. The “loss of online conversations about this difficulty suggests that it can no longer be broadly shared,” it said.
In a separate incident, an Edexcel A-degree in addition to a maths examination needed to be withdrawn and changed last week due to worries approximately a likely safety breach. The pass changed into a leak this month while every other A-level maths paper was presented on the market through social media. Two questions from the paper first regarded on Twitter, presenting students the whole paper for £70. The regulations governing examination protection are targeted and rigorous. Papers are kept in sealed packets and introduced through courier to examination centers where they must be signed for, with the date and time of receipt recorded. They then have to be straight away locked in a ease room completely assigned to assessments, preferably without home windows and on a top floor.
The use of smartphones and social media has changed the panorama for both cheats and regulators. One deputy headteacher, who asked to stay anonymous, said: “We are going for walks a 20th century-fashion paper-based totally exam system in a 21st-century global. We normally have faith in the machine, but those pronounced protection breaches without a doubt knock that self-assurance.” Exam forums have taken measures to try to maintain up with the cheats. Pearson, which owns Edexcel, stated in April that it was piloting a scheme wherein examination papers are microchipped to music the date, time, and place of each bundle. AQA says it has a devoted crew the usage of “cutting-edge” online tracking systems.
“We’ve substantially improved our online monitoring this year and delivered new ways of dealing with social media posts claiming to offer examination questions,” the board stated. “We have attempted-and-examined plans in the region to make sure no person gets away with cheating – along with superior statistical tracking in the course of the marking method.” After today’s incident, a headteacher in Gloucestershire wrote to mother and father, saying the ability leak was stated at several schools and became underneath research. “We had been confident by the board that as our college students aren’t involved in sourcing or releasing the cloth, there might be no outcomes for them.”
One figure whose infant sat the affected exam stated: “There was this photo of a paper doing the rounds on Snapchat. Nobody at my baby’s college becomes liable for the leak, but it becomes going among colleges. That’s the component of social media. They unfold almost on the spot. As soon as somebody knows something mystery, it spreads like wildfire.” Louisa Fyans, AQA’s head of assessments integrity and inspection, said: “We have been extremely dissatisfied to discover that a few college students have been able to see a web page from a GCSE spiritual studies paper before the examination. We contacted the police right now, and we’ve been doing our own investigation too.”
Fyans reassured college students that movement changed into being taken to ensure nobody could benefit from the leak. “We understand college students might be concerned, but we’d like to reassure them that there are lots of things we can do to ensure no person gets away with cheating, inclusive of tracking for college kids with inconsistent marks for this page.” Pupils and their mother and father but continue to be worrying. “My daughter felt cheated,” stated the parent formerly quoted. “She’s anticipated the pinnacle grade. She’s a conscientious scholar. If everybody else sitting the paper has seen many of the questions, they’re at an unfair gain. It undermines confidence inside the system, and it undermines consequences.”
The tests regulator Ofqual said it became tracking AQA’s response to the RS exam leak and its measures to make sure no pupil is advantaged. The watchdog reported 68 examination safety breaches ultimate summertime, 59% of which involved papers being incorrectly opened or passed out by way of centers. “We take the integrity of exams very seriously,” a spokesperson stated. “Any leak is absolutely unacceptable and causes useless misery to students. Exam delivery relies on the integrity of anybody concerned, and malpractice is uncommon in a device of this length, related to around 2,000 exam papers every 12 months. “When this examination series has completed, we can evaluate and document on how the series has long passed and do not forget what more the device wishes to do to counter threats to its integrity.
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents the seven biggest qualification vendors in the UK, commissioned an impartial record into exam malpractice last year following some concerning incidents. The chair of the commission, Sir John Dunford, is due to report later this summer season. Pearson became forced to make modifications to statistics and similarly pure maths A-degree papers in 2017. After reports that a few students had seen questions earlier, police investigations were released into suspected leaks regarding Edexcel’s A-level maths papers in 2017 and 2018. Twenty-nine applicants had their outcomes annulled. The criminal investigation into the 2017 case maintains, with information forwarded to prosecutors through the police closing in April. Commenting on these 12 months’ leaks, a JCQ spokesperson said: “All proof indicates that relatively few students have visible these questions and that these breaches of safety are restrained. The exam forums have rigorous procedures, including the digital marking and tracking of papers, to ensure the security in their substances and continually hold those underneath overview.”