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Share via Email If cheating in schools is exposed the vultures waiting for the chance to privatise education will swoop.
Alamy On the first day of the school year the staffroom buzzes with nervous whispers. Everyone is eager to hear the big news about results. Is an Ofsted inspection imminent or are we safe in our jobs for another year?
Thoughts whir as the senior management team present their annual analysis of assessment data. But there is an enormous elephant in the room; most of the members of the audience know the data is false. This is because we know how much we help children cheat in the modular tests brought in to replace coursework.
Controlled assessments are not properly scrutinised by line managers and exam boards, a problem that gets worse every year. More and more teachers allow students to use extensive written notes when only limited prompts are allowed.
They were unaware that the amount of help their teachers gave them — by providing detailed writing frames, editing their initial drafts line by line and giving intensive one-to-one guidance — meant it was practically done for them.
When we internally moderate school-based assessments, obvious discrepancies, such as students who have only just started learning English writing like prize-winning authors, are ignored in the near certainty we will not be caught. The exam boards select work from random students to scrutinise, but they have a vested interest in schools choosing their syllabi so they are unlikely to be too rigorous.
It is hard to be sure how aware students are about this constituting malpractice. Some, of course, smell a rat but stay quiet. Most expect their teachers to allow repeated redrafting because it has become so much the norm that they would be disadvantaged without it.
When parents get involved, they expect the same. When I discussed my concerns with our headteacher, who is much better than most, they echoed that sentiment exactly. The problem is that teachers have no choice. In the current climate this argument has force: The aftermath of such a judgement is our biggest fear — academisation.
The impact on results is most pronounced in the English department. Soon, English and some other subjects will see controlled assessments replaced by exam-only syllabi.
When that happens, I worry that results will fall dramatically and the level of cheating in schools will be exposed to the public. Our reputation will take an almighty hammering and once we lose that standing with parents and communities, we will be easy prey for the vultures who want to privatise our great profession.
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Restraint of Trade. Contracts or combinations that tend, or are designed, to eliminate or stifle competition, create a Monopoly, artificially maintain prices, or otherwise hamper or obstruct the course of trade as it would be carried on if it were left to the control of natural economic forces..
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