Chalk Talk: How to stop exam cheats – keep examiners and teachers apart


A new word appears to have entered the world of education jargon – webalogue.

It is what the exam boards may well have to end up doing if they want to retain contact with teachers in the future – contact them through their websites.

The word was uttered by Andrew Hall, chief executive of the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, admittedly with disdain, when he gave evidence to MPs on allegations that examiners tipped off teachers about next year's exams' content.

The feeling abroad is that the examiners cannot be trusted to keep schtum if they meet teachers in person but would think twice about offering tips online.

Perhaps they do not need to converse in the Queen's English either.

Meanwhile, just before Christmas, the tale of the would-be teacher who took a literacy test 36 times emerged from an MP's question in the Commons. What the answer did not reveal was whether the teacher then gave up or entered the profession a fully qualified teacher.

It's really a question of heads you lose, tails you lose. After all, would you want your child taught by a teacher who failed a literacy tests 35 times? On the other hand, what on earth persuaded them to give up after 36 tries? No stamina!

Meanwhile, a reader emailed in after we published details of some of the questions teachers had to answer. Apparently, she remembered them from her 11-plus in the 1960s. Pity I had not realised that at the time I wrote the story.

PS: I now also know that one maths teacher apparently took the numeracy test 39 times.

At the Commons recently for a Parliamentary Skills Group seminar. It was revealed at the start that one of the panellists, the editor of the Times Educational Supplement, could no longer attend. Trouble is, he was referred to as Gene Kelly, not Gerard Kelly, by the bearer of the tidings. I know editors tapdance their way out of trouble but that is ridiculous.