Call to fine exam boards which break the rules

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The Independent Online

Exam boards should face fines if they fail to stick to guidelines on standards, the head of the Royal Society of Chemistry said today.

Awarding bodies are competing in a "race to the bottom" as they battle to make their courses attractive to schools and students, Dr Richard Pike claimed.



He said boards should face penalties in the same way that Forumla 1 drivers are banned if they break the rules, or as those who break competition laws are fined.



Speaking at the opening of a new chemistry block at Millfield School in Somerset today, Dr Pike will say: "Evidence gathered recently by the science community has identified entire science papers with no underlying mathematics, and science questions with no science. This is a blatant breach of expected standards."



He will add: "As examining boards compete to makes their wares more attractive to schools and pupils, it really is 'a race to the bottom', with each one pushing the boundaries set by the regulators and sometimes going right through them.



"Even attempts to make topics more relevant through the How Science Works initiative, as demanded by specifications, have been largely abandoned in some cases, as boards focus on simplicity and multiple choice questions.



"In any other endeavour, this would be unacceptable. Break the rules in Formula 1, and you get banned. Contravene competition law, and you get fined.



"A million pound surcharge would focus the mind of any examining board chief executive and overnight would do more than years of 'discussion between stakeholders'."

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