Exam Cheating: Chiefs Defend Telegraph Allegations
Exam chiefs have defended allegations they gave unfair advice on how to boost exam results and made tests easier in order to attract more business.
The accusations, part of a Daily Telegraph expose, also included children being given exam questions prior to sitting their GCSE and A-levels. A House of Commons education committee questioned three exam chiefs who were secretly recorded on film by journalists at the broadsheet paper.
The examiners insisted they had been "misrepresented", with one - Paul Barnes from Welsh examining body WJEC - saying the footage had been edited by the paper before it was published.
Paul Evans, from the same board, said the intention of the seminars, which teachers paid up to £250 to attend, were held to "utilise" the syllabus and "inform and assist teachers".
"I was only reporting what was already public knowledge," he told the committee. "I did not breach any confidentiality and reference to the word 'cheating' was inappropriate."
Steph Warren, the examiner caught on film apparently boasting how "easy" her exams were for students, said she had had "a really exhausting day of training".
"We all make mistakes," she added. "The comment was made in the heat of the moment and it was inappropriate.
She was also seemingly caught saying: "There's so little content we don't know how we got it through," which she vehemently denied.
"My daughter has transcribed the footage and I did not say that. It is not true," she told the committee.
"The media coverage has been difficult for me," she added. "But my concerns are for the children and how the media coverage affects the belief in themselves and the examination system."
Glenys Stacey, chief executive of watchdog Ofqual, said she was aware of concerns about the seminars and had declared the issue a "priority" but expressed her surprise to the extent of the allegations.
Stacey added Ofqual would be asking education secretary Michael Gove for whistleblowers who contact the regulator to be given better levels of protection and said the body should be given the autonomy to impose fines.
"This is a significant issue. I want the greatest range of sanctions for Ofqual, of course I do, but it is a matter for the Government to decide whether fundamental reform is needed."
She added a review was being conducted to ensure there was not "any sniff" of concern about papers being compromised and A-levels remained "good qualifications".