Ofqual retreats over banning exam boards from holding seminars for teachers on A-levels and GCSEs

Teachers said the sessions were essential to continue to explain Government reforms

Education Editor

Exam boards will be allowed to keep holding controversial seminars for teachers on A-levels and GCSEs, after the exams regulator Ofqual reversed its decision to ban them.

The proposal to axe the forums came after evidence emerged that teachers were being leaked information about what would be in upcoming exams to help boost their school’s results. The ban was due to come into force next month.

However, the regulator has bowed to pressure from exam boards and teachers, who claimed it was essential to continue to hold the seminars to explain Government reforms to the two exams.

In future, though, examiners who have been involved in the setting of questions will be barred from attending the events to avoid a conflict of interest or inadvertent leaking of information about questions.

Glenys Stacey, Ofqual’s chief regulator, said: “Since our original decision, the full scale and pace of the programme to reform GCSEs and A-levels has become clear.

“After looking at this evidence and listening to the feedback from our recent consultation, we have decided that appropriately run seminars can still play a key role in supporting teachers to prepare their students for the new qualifications.”

The change of heart was welcomed by both exam boards and headteachers’ organisations. Andrew Hall, chief executive of AQA, the biggest exam board, said: “We were really concerned when we thought there might be a total ban, as there hadn’t been any problems with our seminars and it looked like Ofqual was going to throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “This is a sensible and proportionate decision. Because a few rogue trainers broke the rules is no reason to ban what is a legitimate source of information for teachers. If there is evidence of malpractice, this should be dealt with individually. The seminars are very helpful for teachers in providing information, clarifying grey areas and giving opportunities to come together to discuss issues around exams.”

The move to overhaul the seminars came in the wake of allegations that examiners had been secretly advising teachers attending seminars on how to boost their school’s GCSE and A-level results.

In a subsequent report, Ofqual said it had found no evidence of widespread misconduct but there were “specific incidents of serious malpractice”.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “Teachers value exam board seminars highly, and an outright ban would have been an over-reaction that would have been damaging to teachers and ultimately to learners.

“The new proposals allow vital training to take place in ways which ought to maintain the security of the exam system and public confidence in examinations.”

New-style GCSE and A-levels, with more emphasis on exam and less on coursework assessment, will be taught from September 2015.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003