Secret Teacher: we help students to cheat, but how long before it’s exposed?

The latest Secret Teacher writing in the Guardian says teachers who break the rules will have nowhere to hide when exam-only syllabi come in..

…Controlled assessments are not properly scrutinised by line managers and exam boards, a problem that gets worse every year. More and more teachers allow students to use extensive written notes when only limited prompts are allowed. In April I found students in the library “redrafting” controlled assessments for the sixth or seventh time when they should not be attempted more than once…

The problem is that teachers have no choice. If students do not achieve their target grades/levels, we get the blame. In the current climate this argument has force: without the malpractice we indulge in, the head says we would slip from “good” to “requires improvement” or even “inadequate”. The aftermath of such a judgement is our biggest fear – academisation…

Soon, English and some other subjects will see controlled assessments replaced by exam-only syllabi. When that happens, I worry that results will fall dramatically and the level of cheating in schools will be exposed to the public. They will not have sympathy for the “you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight” line of defence, and the fact that the fight should never have been called for in the first instance won’t matter a jot.

Our students, who think we are doing nothing wrong now, will look back on their education with deep cynicism. Our reputation will take an almighty hammering and once we lose that standing with parents and communities, we will be easy prey for the vultures who want to privatise our great profession…

More at: Secret Teacher: we help students to cheat, but how long before it’s exposed?


See also: Teachers play the system to hit league table and exam targets, says report


Lots of things have confused and infuriated me since starting this site. Many others have delighted or fascinated me. But nothing has surprised me as much as the realisation of the amount of cheating that appears to go on in schools and the apparent unwillingness of people in the system – especially those not involved – to call it out. 

I completely understand the pressures behind cheating and the potential consequences of not doing it when others are. Indeed, this is one of the worst aspects because all those who do not cheat get punished for their honesty.

And no teacher should ever be pressurised into cheating (and I know they are). Teachers are the pawns in all this and surely the responsibility for sorting it out needs to come from much higher.

So why don’t we hear more school leaders and teaching unions taking the lead and saying unequivocally that cheating is wrong and teachers must never be put under pressure to do it? 

Instead if often feels as though everyone is happy to ignore or excuse cheating. 

I think this Secret Teacher is probably right: if nothing is done, the credibility and reputation of the whole system and those who work in it will be likely to suffer.

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  1. TW

    You need to think of the bribery by the government.  Schools that could get good results could become academies.  Academies, at least at secondary level, were flooded with money enabling all sorts of new buildings and goodies at the cost of depriving other parts of the education system of money it needed.  The schools that benefited are not going to shop themselves.  Leaders in other, more honest if less enriched, schools would be reluctant to make accusations and if they did they would be asked for the proof that could only come from within the guilty schools.  Corruption then becomes embedded in the system and starts to spread.  A small price for the government to pay to enable it to eventually turn the system into profit opportunities for its mates.

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