It is the latest of a series of damaging security breaches to hit summer exams in recent years, with social media enabling cheats to disseminate leaked questions quickly and easily.
The latest security breach involved an AQA GCSE RS paper sat by thousands of pupils on 20 May. One parent told the Guardian a number of students went home and said an element of the paper had been circulating on Snapchat ahead of the exam.
AQA confirmed that police had been contacted and an investigation was under way. The exam board said only one page was affected. The “lack of online conversations about this issue suggests that it may not have been widely shared”, it said.
The use of smartphones and social media has changed the landscape for both cheats and regulators. One deputy head teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “We are running a 20th century-style paper-based examination system in a 21st-century world. We generally have confidence in the system, but these reported security breaches clearly knock that confidence.”
One parent whose child sat the affected exam said: “There was this photo of a paper doing the rounds on Snapchat. Nobody at my child’s school was responsible for the leak, but it was going between schools. That’s the thing with social media. The spread is almost immediate. As soon as somebody knows something secret, it spreads like wildfire.”
Louisa Fyans, AQA’s head of exams integrity and inspection, said: “We were extremely disappointed to discover that some students were able to see a page from a GCSE religious studies paper before the exam. We contacted the police straight away and we’ve been doing our own investigation too.”
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