Private schools ‘list weak test pupils as external candidates to manipulate exam results’, leading education officer claims
- Andrew Harland, the head of International Exam Officers’ Association, has blamed the ‘pressure of league tables’
- He said that rules and regulations against this happening made no difference
- Thousands of students in the UK will receive their GCSE exam results tomorrow
Andrew Harland, the outgoing head of the International Exam Officers’ Association, has said that private schools are manipulating the exam system by entering their weaker students into exams as ‘external candidates’
Private schools are manipulating the exam system by entering their weaker students into exams as ‘external candidates’, a top exam officer has claimed.
Andrew Harland, the outgoing head of the International Exam Officers’ Association, said that the ‘pressure of league tables’ had resulted in many schools registering students in this way to protect their standings.
He revealed that members of the IEOA have expressed concern over schools who enter students as ‘external’ or ‘private’ candidates, so that their grades will not affect the average results of the year group.
‘These decisions might be made by senior management but entries are made by the exam officers – they know who has been entered where,’ he said.
Mr Harland also said the new, tougher GCSEs exams and a change in the examination system had led to a heightened pressure on exam performance.
Previously schools could deal with weaker students by re-entering them for modules.
‘Some people don’t perform well in exams, so this kind of approach was more suited to weaker students,’ he told the Telegraph.
Mr Harland claims that it is the ‘pressure of league tables’ that had resulted in many schools registering students in this way to protect their standings
‘That was possible under a modular system but now we are in a linear system where there is more pressure on students to perform in exams.’
Thousands of students across the UK will receive their GCSE exam results tomorrow. The amended qualifications, which are less coursework-heavy and have fewer modules, now make up around 99.5 per cent of all exams taken this summer.
One mother, whose daughter attended a top UK private school, said she was appalled to learn her daughter had been entered as an ‘external candidate’.
She had to hide the truth from her daughter, who had missed a term due to anxiety.
‘We only realised what had happened when my daughter asked us why her exam pack arrived in the post and everyone else got theirs at school,’ she said.
The Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards, says that any candidates registered with a specific school cannot be entered as external candidates.
But Mr Harland said the JCQ rules and regulations made no difference as they ‘have no legal status at all’.
Neil Roskilly, chief executive of the Independent Schools Association, said it was ‘completely unacceptable’ for private schools to incorrectly list students as external candidates.
He explained how many schools are registered as open examination centres which allows outside candidates to take exams if they are self-taught or home-schooled.
‘If that opens up a loophole through which a school insists that someone who has paid fees only takes the final examination as an external candidate –that’s immoral,’ he said.