10/12/2011 01:40 GMT | Updated 08/02/2012 05:12 GMT

UK Exam Boards Could Be Reformed Over 'Cheating' Claims

Direct competition between examination boards could be scrapped under reform plans being considered by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Amid questions about exam standards after an undercover investigation by The Daily Telegraph, Mr Gove told the newspaper the current system was "grotesquely unfair" on students.

He indicated he was keen to have only one exam board per subject, although he would wait for the findings of an investigation by Ofqual before deciding how to proceed "early in the new year". "The first response that most people understandably have is, 'Why don't you just have one exam board?' he told the Telegraph.

"And as someone who grew up in Scotland I naturally sympathise, because we just had one exam board. I think it is the most compelling answer at the moment. But I owe it to students and to teachers to let the investigators come up with their recommendations, make a proper investigation and present all the facts."

His proposal would see boards compete to provide a single exam for each subject.

Three examiners have been suspended after it was alleged to undercover reporters that teachers were given unfair advice about forthcoming exams. It was also claimed that one exam board set easier tests than others.

The Telegraph released video footage of a chief examiner at Edexcel who claimed the company's GCSE geography tests were not as difficult as those from other exam boards.

Steph Warren also described her disbelief that the test had been cleared by Ofqual. Speaking at an Edexcel seminar in Birmingham last month, she said teachers should choose their exam because "you don't have to teach a lot".

A spokesman for Edexcel said Ms Warren had been suspended pending an investigation into her comments and allegations regarding disclosure of future exam content.

Two examiners with WJEC - the Welsh exam board - were suspended following claims which centred on teachers being given detailed advice on forthcoming exam questions and how students could score higher marks. It is understood the examiners are Paul Evans and Paul Barnes, both of whom were named in the Telegraph's report.