In July 2011 allegations about assessment malpractice at Kingsdale Foundation School were received by OCR from a group of whistle blowers. The allegations related to malpractice and maladministration of a range of GCSE and GCSE equivalent qualifications offered by four exam boards. The exam boards continued to receive fresh allegations over a period of several months. Some of these allegations did not relate to assessments or exams and were therefore passed to the appropriate agency.
The exam boards made sure that the awards made to candidates at Kingsdale Foundation School in the summer of 2011 and in the subsequent exam series were valid. Some BTECs in Science were not awarded. Measures were put in place in November 2011 to address concerns about maladministration and to observe the conduct of exams in 2012.
It has taken a long time to establish whether or not the initial allegations of malpractice could be substantiated. This case was unprecedented in its complexity. As a result the exam boards took some time to establish the facts, conduct malpractice hearings and handle a follow up appeal.
We have written to the exam boards to set out the lessons we think that should be learnt from this case, both by us as regulator and them as the bodies responsible for carrying out malpractice investigations.
The letter, which has been published in full, says that Ofqual will be:
- Reviewing our Conditions and the guidance around the particular condition (A8) that requires exam boards to make sure malpractice investigations are carried out ‘rigorously, effectively and by persons of appropriate competence who have no personal interest in their outcome.’
- Considering how we make our expectations clear on such cases.
- Determining our intervention strategies such that if we have evidence of clear breaches we will take early action to bring all actions in line with requirements.
It also sets out some expectations for future multi-exam board cases of this complexity. In general, we would expect each exam board to:
- Set Terms of Reference and an Investigation Plan which determine a clear lead and a summary of how the investigation will be carried out.
- Delegate investigation to the school or Governing Body only when the exam board has confidence that the investigation will be prompt, thorough, independent and effective.
- Have published a Whistleblowing policy
- Review and revise if necessary the JCQ malpractice procedures in light of this case.
- Keep Ofqual informed about the volume of cases and about complex cases.
- Look beyond the immediate reported issues to assure itself that arrangements at the centre are appropriate for all subjects.
- Consider the need to keep an increased level of monitoring at the school or college concerned
Now that the case has been concluded the exam boards have reported their findings to us. We are publishing these reports as we believe it is in the public interest to do so. Ofqual and exam boards have learnt lessons about the approach to investigating allegations of such scope and complexity in the future.
You can download the reports here (please note some reports may contain redacted content):
The reports have not been agreed by Kingsdale School.