TV investigation to air tonight on allegations of exam malpractice

[UPDATE > I got the timing wrong on this – it was yesterday but is available on ITV player!] The Mail is reporting that an ITV documentary has investigated whether some schools are taking duplicitous measures to achieve better exam results. 

Allegations of malpractice by staff at British schools are probed in Exposure: Making The Grades, which airs tonight, after some teachers have accused their colleagues of cheating.

Cathy James, who runs the whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work, said the problem is more widespread than many realise.

‘We have seen a huge increase in calls from the education sector and a fifth of those calls relate to exam fraud and that’s a really shocking statistic for us,’ she said.

According to the programme, last year there were 217 penalties issued to schools and colleges, up from 140 in 2013 – a 55 per cent increase. And there were 119 penalties issued to school and college staff in 2014, up from 100 penalties the year before. 

Unfair advantages given to students may include giving students too long in exams, providing answers, and a lack of security in the exam hall. 

The problem is said to have developed after league tables based on exam results were introduced in 1992, putting more pressure on schools to perform well…

According to the show, one teacher on a forum revealed: ‘I’m being told I have to let pupils re-do a controlled assessment in which they have done badly…

The ITV programme features Prospect School in Reading where such malpractice is said to have taken place. 

Pupils Zac Brown and Robert Holmes said they had to re-do the same controlled assessment when they were studying their science GCSE in 2013.

Robert said: ‘I redid the exam at least six or seven times. When we redid the exams it was the same questions same sheets everything was exactly the same.

‘I don’t know why the teachers were getting us to do it over and over again, I just went along with it…’ 

The school was investigated by AQA – an independent education charity and the largest provider of academic qualifications taught in schools and colleges – and cleared of any wrongdoing…

Update: Exposure: Making the Grades is available on ITV player

More at: Are schools cheating to give children better grades? ‘Money-for-marks culture’ is blamed after investigation exposes malpractice in exam marking system


I won’t be able to watch this programme until later but it will be interesting to see exactly what they cover and what the reaction to it is.

I understand the pressure the system is placing on individuals to cheat but believe it is totally unacceptable because it is completely unfair of those – staff and students – who do things right. 

I also can’t help but feel the situation has been made worse by a reluctance of many in the system to either acknowledge it is happening or criticise when it does.

What would have to happen for there to be a zero tolerance approach amongst staff where they felt confident to report any attempts made to get them to cheat without fear for their own positions?

Please share your thoughts and insights in the comments or via Twitter…


Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link

A-level results set to show slight drop in top grades
Trial of Chinese-style maths lessons in English schools to be expanded
Categories: Secondary and Teaching.


  1. johneffay

    SchoolsImprove No problem with programmes like this being made, but should not be aired on results day undermining pupils’ achievements.

  2. johneffay

    nastyoldmrpike SchoolsImprove True, but the timing is deliberately designed to undermine the probity of results.

  3. Dai_James1942

    SchoolsImprove Fraud shows that people rate the instrumental value of education higher than its intrinsic value. #SchleswigHolsteinQuestion

  4. kccv1

    This is why the #market is inappropriate in setting and running exams Mr #Gove and Ms #Morgan.
    Try and get a grip!

Let us know what you think...