Senior examiners are warning that some teachers are colluding with their pupils to help them cheat in GCSE, GNVQ and A-level coursework, it emerged yesterday.
They voiced their complaints in reports on this summer's exams to two of the country's biggest exam boards, Edexcel and the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA).
The AQA warned last night that teachers found guilty of cheating could face disciplinary hearings or even prison. George Turnbull, the AQA's spokesman, said that as far as the exam board was concerned the teachers would be barred from marking or invigilating exams for two years.
The latest complaints came to light only two days after members of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) called for a ban on coursework, complaining of "internet-inspired abuse".
In four chief examiners' reports on this summer's exams, concerns were raised that marking of coursework had either been over-generous or that teachers had been too helpful towards their students or had failed to spot pupils helping each other.
In a report on the AQA's sociology A-level, the chief examiner said: "In some candidates' work, there was evidence of copying large sections of the [model answers] given to teachers."
In another report for the AQA board on history GCSE, the chief examiner cautioned that "coursework needs to be the independent work of candidates".
Edexcel said of its GNVQ in intermediate and information technology that, in the case of a few schools and colleges, "the work of all candidates was similar".
A spokesman for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said that students who had been caught out had been disqualified from the exam.
Mr Turnbull added that the ban could be extended to all subjects taken by the offending candidates.
He said: "If teachers are signing off work that they know not to be candidates' work, [but they] undertake that, to the best of their knowledge it is the candidates' work, I think the only name for that is cheating. To say the least, it's unprofessional. If it's not the candidate's work, the student will be disqualified - end of story."
At the HMC annual gathering in Dublin, Graham Able, the chairman and headmaster of Dulwich College, said coursework should be replaced with teachers' reports on how well pupils had done in class during "the work of the course". He said there had been cases of students taking their coursework home and copying their answers from the internet.Reuse content