Exams watchdog issues warning after rise in number of schools targeted by test paper scams

Exams board AQA have warned of at least one scam in which individuals target schools to glean access to unseen test papers

Rachael Pells
Sunday 29 May 2016 16:45
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Thousands of pupils across the UK are in the midst of GCSE and A-level exams this month
Thousands of pupils across the UK are in the midst of GCSE and A-level exams this month

Exams regulator Ofqual has warned schools of an increasing number of scams in place by individuals posing as exams officers in order to obtain unseen test papers.

In a letter to schools, Ofqual said schools should be especially “vigilant” about the security of this year’s GCSE and A-level exam papers, warning that results including AS-levels were expected to fluctuate, potentially differing from expectations.

The watchdog said: “Increasingly we are being made aware of attempts by individuals to obtain copies of secure question papers.”

“Exam boards will not ask you to email copies of secure material to anyone, nor will they ask you to confirm your secure login details by email or over the phone. If you are in any doubt about a request, please check with the exam board concerned.”

The warnings come following reports of a number of scams whereby schools were being approached by fraudulent companies.

One head teacher used social media to alert colleagues of a scan in which a man claiming to be a courier for the AQA exam board asked school staff to give him all of the exam papers that we due to be taken during the following week.

Geoff Barton, headteacher of King Edward VI School in in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, shared a message from a Norfolk headteacher that said the man knew the school exam officer’s name even though she had only been in the post for four weeks, and also knew the exam paper codes.

An AQA spokeswoman told TES magazine the exams board “would never send anyone unannounced to a school like this” and was “really grateful” to the school for alerting others to the scam.

In the same letter, Ofqual suggested that AS level results in particular were likely to differ from many schools’ expectations this summer.

The watchdog advised anyone who “sees or suspects cheating, malpractice or exam fraud” to report it to governing bodies.

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