Cheating found to be rife in British schools and universities

The Guardian is reporting claims from a TV programme to be broadcast today (Monday) that British education is experiencing an epidemic of what it calls trickery and cheating…

An investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches, to be screened on Monday night, describes how shady practices and in some cases outright fraud are woven into the fabric of UK education as the use of exam results, league tables and performance indicators increases the pressure on students, teachers and institutions to succeed.

…the programme exposed instances of secondary schools exploiting loopholes in regulations to avoid some pupils sitting examinations, so that their results would not show up in the school’s crucial performance tables…

The programme highlighted several cases in which teachers had changed pupil assessments or coursework to artificially boost a school’s performance, in some cases under direct orders from the school’s leadership.

One teacher told the programme: “There was one girl, her coursework had no punctuation in it at all. In the end, I just had to go through it myself and put in the full stops and commas and the capital letters because she just couldn’t get it … We made sure that every student had coursework that was C and above.”

In one secondary school judged outstanding by Ofsted, a teacher reported that pupils were ordered to copy coursework directly out of a textbook by one of the most senior members of staff.

“The heads of departments feel under huge pressure and teachers at the bottom end of the whole hierarchy feel that they have to perform, they have to do it,” Birendra Singh, a former Ofsted inspector, told the programme…

More at: Cheating found to be rife in British schools and universities

 

You can see the programme – Exams: Cheating the system? – at 8pm this evening on Channel 4

 

None of these issues is new this site but it will be interesting to see what the programme adds to the debate.

My personal opinion on this is that cheating is plain wrong and penalises honest staff and students. It cannot ever be justified and I feel there are some within the system who would rather turn a blind eye to it than call it out for what it is.

However, at the same time there is also something very wrong when so many feel under such pressure that they are driven to undertake these measures. That can’t be right or good for anyone either. 

It is also wrong if increasing numbers are feeling under pressure to cheat because they believe if they don’t others will be and their students will be at a disadvantage. This is just going to create a vicious circle of increasing levels of dishonesty.

So how do we sort this out? Please let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. 4C3d

    Should this be the case we have to ask what lesson are we teaching children. As long ago as 2000 I was “told” by a student to do his work for him because “It will make you look good”. He had learnt to stand back, to pause and wait for his teacher to step in and do it for him. In my case I did not and so he had to suggest it. Have we, by making testing and targets of such high consequence, shifted the responsibility away the student and to the teacher/school? Perhaps what we are experiencing in schools is a natural survival mechanism for the school and staff, after all a failure of any nature doth and academy make and heads roll.

  2. TW

    Inevitable consequence of having a high-stakes league table system that pretends all results should be above average.  The creation and entirely the responsibility of government and Ofsted.

  3. Coursework lends itself to this too much.
    Even though we did not ‘cheat, we always picked up the students with no, or very weak coursework and gave them after school sessions till it was done.  In these sessions the group was always small, so the students could ask questions like “What does ‘conclusion mean'” and we could explain what was needed.
    There is a thin line between this and doing it for them….

  4. 4C3d

    The issue of coursework being a euphemism for cheating is one I take exception to. It is the culture of high stakes that temps some people to take advantage of it that is at fault not the concept or use of coursework in assessing a students understanding and skills. I will agree there are some elements of coursework that need careful management but lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater. One element of coursework that is a problem is the way it is assessed or the weighting given to certain elements that distort the learning. An example would be in design where quantity of  paperwork and presentation tended to score more than practical problem solving and a finished design. This is in my opinion a result of trying to apply academic style assessment techniques to a practical subject.

  5. 4C3d

    The issue of coursework being a euphemism for cheating is one I take exception to. It is the culture of high stakes that temps some people to take advantage of it that is at fault not the concept or use of coursework in assessing a students understanding and skills. I will agree there are some elements of coursework that need careful management but lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater. One element of coursework that is a problem is the way it is assessed or the weighting given to certain elements that distort the learning. An example would be in design where quantity of  paperwork and presentation tended to score more than practical problem solving and a finished design. This is in my opinion a result of trying to apply academic style assessment techniques to a practical subject.

  6. ChrisAFRIN

    SchoolsImprove tes tesfenews tesResources hopefully this improved their literacy skills I was just discussing text books with robsolway

  7. ChrisAFRIN

    SchoolsImprove tes tesfenews tesResources hopefully this improved their literacy skills I was just discussing text books with robsolway

  8. gaz600

    SchoolsImprove pressure of performance management, residuals and revised pay on performance, oh & the important league table position ! U0001f615

  9. gaz600

    SchoolsImprove pressure of performance management, residuals and revised pay on performance, oh & the important league table position ! U0001f615

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