More cheating – and that's just the teachers

Number of staff members disciplined for 'malpractice' in exams up 30 per cent

Cheating in GCSE and A-levels by pupils, teachers and even school exam centres rose markedly last year, with ever more sophisticated electronic gadgets being smuggled into exam halls.

The number of teenagers found guilty of cheating rose by 6.2 per cent to 4,415 during last summer's exams. But not only pupils were at it – the number of teachers disciplined for test "malpractice" was 30 per cent higher than the year before.

A breakdown of figures from the Office of the Qualifications and Exams Regulator (Ofqual) showed that the most common form of cheating was "bringing a mobile phone or other electronic gadget" into the room.

Some candidates were caught with concealed earpieces, described as "exam cheat equipment" on some of the websites that sell them, which could receive information from outside an exam hall. Exam bosses admitted that these were more difficult to detect, although many schools now use mobile tracking devices to detect whether a signal is being sent from anywhere in the room. The second most common cause of malpractice was plagiarism or copying other students' work, which accounted for 1,084 cases. Disruptive behaviour in the exam room, including swearing, rose from 514 cases in 2008 to 539 last year.

Candidates were also docked marks for including offensive and obscene comments in their exam papers.

In total, 2,155 students lost marks after being found guilty, 644 failed their exams and 1,616 escaped with warnings. "Candidates who bring a mobile phone into an exams room but do not have the phone at their desk might receive a warning, whereas candidates found using a mobile phone during an exam might be disqualified from the unit or qualification in the current exam series," a spokesman for Ofqual explained.

The number of teachers disciplined rose from 68 to 88, and 17 were suspended from invigilating in exams. Their crimes including leaving the exam hall unsupervised and helping candidates to answer questions.

Ofqual stressed that the figures confirmed that only 0.03 per cent of pupils cheated in exams taken last summer.

However, Jim Sinclair, director of the Joint Council for Qualifications, the organisation which represents the examination boards, said it took a "zero tolerance" approach to all forms of cheating, including the possession of unauthorised items such as mobile phones, iPods and other digital music players.

Mick Brookes, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said he did not condone cheating but pointed out that children knew some exams were "extremely high stakes" and schools were under more pressure to succeed. He added: "Young people are in a highly pressurised environment, partly due to the jobs market being more difficult than it was, and university entrance being restricted."

Unfair advantages

* The most common form of cheating is bringing an unauthorised device into the examination room. These are no longer just mobile phones but also more general data devices such as MP3 players which hold text, images, audio and video. Some pupils have been caught wearing concealed earpieces on which they can receive information in the exam room.

* Schools and exam boards are fighting back. A Gloucestershire company, Mobysafe, sells schools hand-held mobile phone detectors which can be placed in the examination room to detect any electronic signals.

* A more traditional form of cheating is the second most common type: plagiarism. That is, writing answers down from the internet on coursework without amending them. This is often detected during marking by an examiner with a detailed knowledge of website sources available to answer the question. Denmark has got round this by throwing in the towel and allowing its pupils to have access to the internet during exams.

* Thirdly, copying and collusion still take place in the exam hall when the invigilator's back is turned.

* One form of cheating which has disappeared as a result of new technology is writing answers on your arm under your sleeve.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power