Police had been called 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 recent years. Social media allows cheats to disseminate leaked questions quickly and without difficulty. Such is the problem of evaluating examination malpractice in a manner because of the file later this summer. Hoaxes about leaked exam papers, once more shared widely online, 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 details of the paper had been circulating on Snapchat ahead of the examination. AQA confirmed that police had been contacted, and an investigation became underway. The examination board stated that the one simplest 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In a separate incident, an Edexcel A degree and a maths examination needed to be withdrawn and changed last week due to worries about a likely safety breach. The pass became a leak this month while every other A-level maths paper was presented on the market through social media. Two questions from the report were first posed on Twitter, giving students the whole article for £70. The regulations governing examination protection are targeted and rigorous. Documents are kept in sealed packets and introduced through couriers to examination centers where they must be signed for, with the date and time of receipt recorded. They must then be locked in an easy 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, asked to stay anonymous, said: “We are going for walks in 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 keep up with the cheats. Pearson, which owns Edexcel, stated in April that it was piloting a scheme wherein examination papers are microchipped to match each bundle’s date, time, and place. AQA has a devoted crew using “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 marking method.” After today’s incident, a headteacher in Gloucestershire wrote to the 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 became liable for the leak, but it went 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 investigation, too.”
Fyans reassured college students that movement changes were 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 many things we can do to ensure no person gets away with cheating,includingf tracking for college kids with inconsistent marks for this page.” Pupils and their mother and father 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 over the 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 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 been completed, we can evaluate and document how the series has long passed. Do not forget what more the device wishes to do to counter threats to its integrity.
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), representing the seven biggest qualification vendors in the UK, commissioned an impartial record of exam malpractice last year following some concerning incidents. The commission chair, Sir John Dunford, is due to report later this summer. Pearson became forced to modify 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 safety breaches 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.”