We are well and truly in exam season with GCSES, A Levels and SATS well under way! Cheating has always been an issue to be considered with exams, with examiners taking five minutes at the start of each exam to inform students of the rules and the penalties of breaking them. However a recent episode of Channel 4’s Dispatches revealed it isn’t just students being caught out, in some cases schools may be just as guilty.
It has been reported that investigators have uncovered that schools have been caught attempting to cheat the exam system in an attempt to boost their league table performance. The programme exposes schools allegedly exploiting loopholes in regulations to avoid some pupils sitting examinations, so that their results would not be affiliated to the school and would ultimately boost headline exam results.
So why is this happening? Is the mounting pressure placed on teachers to improve and meet standards to blame? Even then cheating can never be condoned. Is this common practice in most schools or is this just a select few schools? Let us know your experience.
Students aren’t found to be completely innocent either, with it being reported that more than 58,000 undergraduates have been investigated for plagiarism by their universities over the past four years. With software such as Turnitin (which is designed to spot similarities between students work and online journals or materials) more regularly being used by colleges and universities, more and more plagiarism is being caught. Even with this added deterrent it is reported that students are also being found to be paying companies to write their dissertations, passing work off as their own. Thomas Lancaster a senior lecturer at Birmingham City University said “The vast majority of students of course are completely honest but I’ve seen estimates of £200m a year going through these sites.” Of the 40,000 undergraduates that were found to be guilty of plagiarism and disciplined 400 were expelled or excluded, while 12,000 had marks deducted, to affect their final degree grade. Is this type of punishment enough? If not, what disciplines should the schools and teachers face if they are found guilty?
A Department for Education spokesman said “we trust the professionalism of teachers to administer tests according to the published guidance, and it’s essential that the integrity and security of these tests is maintained”. But have the exams integrity already been tarnished and what punishments should be dealt?
What do you think? Have your say…