Teachers ‘mark pupils higher’ to lift rankings


Teachers are being put under pressure to “inflate” and “invent” pupils' marks in science coursework to improve their schools' GCSE results and boost their league table rankings, according to research being published today.

The research, by former Ofsted inspector Birendra Singh, includes interviews with science teachers at secondary schools in an outer London borough telling how they felt pressurised into inflating their pupils' marks.

In one case, a teacher was asked: “Are you saying that .. assessments are being done in such a way to give the child a higher level or higher grade than the one they will achieve through an accurate assessment.” The reply was “Yes, basically.”

The teacher then told of one pupil given a grade C target who was functionally illiterate - who was given a teaching assistant for the assignment.

“When I have read the work that the TA has actually submitted or the child has submitted with the help of the TA, the quality of the writing is that of an adult. And it's clear to me that the child is not responsible for what has been written on the paper. The clarity of thought is far too deep,” said the teacher,

“I do suspect that perhaps the child hasn't achieved the standard in their science work that the piece of work in front of me suggests they have achieved.”

The teacher said he passed the work on to course supervisors and it was awarded a C grade.  In the BTEC qualification under discussion there was no grade lower than a C - it was C or fail.  The teacher said, in his judgement, the child should have failed.

In a separate interview, a teacher told of a class that had had eight separate teachers - most supply - during the course of the year.  “Nobody had bothered to get these kids to complete their coursework - just gave them a C,” the teacher added. 

The exam board had asked for samples of their work and “now we are having to get them to complete their coursework, I mean copy or we tell them what and how to do it...”, said the teacher.

In another case a teacher told of how pupils had left the school - and were not coming in for classes, A deputy head said they had to come in otherwise the results “would go through the floor”, “So we have got to falsify the... results,” the teacher said. “It is going to come down to falsifying the entries and I am not going to do it.”

Professor Michael Reiss, professor of science education at the University of London's Institute of Education, said he found the research “depressingly convincing”.

“The pressures on teachers and their students to perform in league tables is such that we are likely to hear more of such cases - and in other key subjects, too,” he added. 

“The present government is intending to reform how league table performance is calculated, which is encouraging. In addition, teachers and headteachers need to remember what education is fundamentally for, rather than get sucked into unacceptable practices.”

The findings come as one exam board, the OCR, is calling for a ban on coursework marks counting towards GCSE results. Mark Dawe, its chief executive, argued that coursework was “a headache for teachers”.

“They are torn between needing to continually improve their exam results and yet also to be impartial assessors of their pupils' coursework.”

Education Secretary Michael Gove is king on a major review of GCSE exams - under which the amount of coursework will be dramatically curtailed and more focus put on the end-of-course exam.  He is also reviewing the measurements for league tables with a view to ending the focus on five A* to C grade passes including maths and English which is widely seen as having caused the pressure to create more C grade passes.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Qualified Teaching Assistant

£60 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Qualified Primary Teaching Assista...

EYFS Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education require an ex...

Year 3 Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home