MPs question examiners over test paper disclosure allegations

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Two senior examiners have apologised after appearing to tip off teachers about how they could secure top grades for GCSE students.

Paul Evans, of the WJEC board, and Steph Warren, of Edexcel, said they regretted “inappropriate” comments made to undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph.

However, they both also insisted that they had never revealed details of questions due to be asked in forthcoming exams.

Another examiner caught up in the sting, Paul Barnes of WJEC, said he had been “misrepresented” by the newspaper and denied breaking any rules.

All three have been suspended while investigations take place.

Yesterday’s developments came as the Commons Education Committee took evidence following the exposé last week.

The MPs heard that Edexcel was “deeply concerned” about the revelations, and “systems and processes” were being strengthened.

However representatives from AQA and OCR defended their existing safeguards.

WJEC also said it was satisfied no exams had been compromised.

Chief examiners Mr Evans and Mr Barnes were filmed taking a seminar for the WJEC GCSE history course last month.

Mr Evans reportedly spoke about the “cycle” of questions used by the board.

“We’re cheating, we’re telling you the cycle,” he said.

When someone pointed out this information was not in the course specification, Mr Evans is said to have replied: “No, because we’re not allowed to tell you”.

A teacher asked whether they had understood correctly that there would be no question on Iraq or Iran next year. Mr Barnes said: “Off the record, yes”.

Appearing before the cross-party group of MPs yesterday morning, Mr Evans explained that the intention of the seminar had been to “inform teachers about the course, take them through the lessons learned from the results of examinations in the past, with a view to assisting their teaching in teaching their pupils for future exams”.

He insisted he had merely been indicating that information about compulsory questions was given in the teaching guide, and not in the specification.

“My reference to the word cheating was an inappropriate term to use,” he said.

“At no stage during the seminar did I reveal any specific questions that were to be asked in the 2012 exam, or in any subsequent exam. “Nor did I breach any confidence regarding the examination process itself.”

Mr Barnes told the committee that his “off-the-record” comment was a “throwaway figure of speech”.

“As far as I am concerned there has been no breach of my duties in terms of (as) an examiner,” he said. “As a member of the WJEC I have always tried to uphold the very high standards of the exam board.”