Exam papers are to be micro-chipped for the first time this summer in an attempt to combat online leaks, one of the country’s biggest exam boards has announced. The Telegraph reports.
Pearson, which owns the exam board EdExcel, is piloting a new security initiative which will see micro-chips inserted into packs of A-level and GCSE questions.
The technology will allow Pearson to track the time, date and location of an exam pack if it is opened prematurely, meaning the school or exam centre in question can immediately be alerted to the breach.
The move follows two consecutive years of EdExcel’s Maths A-level papers being leaked. Police launched an investigation last summer after questions were reportedly circulating online where they were being auctioned off for hundreds of pounds the night before around 50,000 students sat the A-level exam.
EdExcel is not the only exam board that has fallen prey to online leaks. Last August, the exam board AQA also admitted that some of the contents of the GCSE Chemistry paper were shared by a pupil on social media before the, resulting in all students being awarded full marks for the affected question.
In a letter to school leaders, Derek Richardson, Pearson’s vice president acknowledged that “breaches of security can serve to significantly undermine trust” in public examinations.
Mr Richardson urged headteachers to regularly inspect the secure storage area which exam papers are kept to check for any irregularities, adding that question paper security should never be the responsibility of a single person.
Mr Richardson said that both the 2017 and 2018 EdExcel incidents were caused by “individuals deliberately setting out to subvert our controls”.
“We have continued to support the police in their investigations, but due to the complexity and unusual nature of these cases, it has taken time to investigate,” he said.
“The individuals responsible for these incidents are therefore now being held to account for the disruption that they caused.”
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