Exam chief: ‘you don’t have to teach a lot’ for our tests

Telegraph
08.12.2011
By Holly Watt

Ms Warren, the chief examiner for Edexcel GCSE Geography, said that teachers should pick her company’s exam because “you don’t have to teach a lot”.

Ms Warren also expressed her disbelief that the geography exam had been cleared by the official regulator.

She said: “There’s so little [in the exam] we don’t know how we got it through [the exam regulator]”. She claimed it was “a lot smaller [than other boards] and that’s why a lot of people came to us.”

The conversation, involving an undercover reporter and two teachers, took place at an Edexcel seminar in Birmingham last month. It will also raise concerns about the rigour of exam papers and standards.

The revelations over Ms Warren’s attitudes to her firm’s own exam come after The Daily Telegraph disclosed how exam boards were found to have ‘cheated’ by giving secret advice to teachers on how to improve GCSE and A-level results.

Two history examiners, Paul Evans and Paul Barnes, have been suspended following the Telegraph’s first series of stories on Thursday into the alleged “corrupt practices” of exam boards.

The two men were secretly filmed briefing teachers at paid-for seminars, during which they gave advice on exam questions and the exact wording pupils should use to obtain higher marks.

In one case, Mr Evans, a chief examiner with the Welsh WJEC exam board, was recorded telling teachers that a compulsory question in a certain exam goes through a “cycle”.

He added: “We’re cheating. We’re telling you the cycle (of the compulsory question). Probably the regulator will tell us off.”

In a statement, the WJEC board said it was taking allegations of cheating “very seriously indeed” and was “investigating the circumstances” revealed by an undercover reporter as a matter of urgency.

Francis Thomas, director of internal and external affairs at Ofqual, said boards could be fined or shut down altogether.

“An act of Parliament has just been passed that gives us powers to fine [exam boards] and that will be in place early in the New Year,” he said. “But actually the ultimate sanction we have got is we can actually take an awarding organisation and put it out of business by telling it that it cannot run exams any more.

“We need to look at the evidence and assess whether, at one end of the scale, this is systematic right through the qualifications business or is this just one or two rogue operators who have gone beyond their brief.

“Depending where it is on that scale we have the powers and we will take the action because we do not want to see the confidence in our qualifications system being undermined.”

Pupils facing examinations this January could have their papers “pulled” and re-set, should exam boards be found to have given improper guidance over expected questions.

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