Schools must identify teachers with conflicts of interest in the wake of

first_imgA senior staff member at Eton College amid allegations he shared confidential information in relation to an upcoming Pre-U economics exam  A senior staff member at Eton College amid allegations he shared confidential information in relation to an upcoming Pre-U economics exam Credit:Tim Graham / Alamy Last summer, it emerged a senior staff member at Eton College had left the prestigious boys’ school amid allegations he shared confidential information in relation to an upcoming Pre-U economics exam with other teachers. Schools must identify teachers with “conflicts of interest” in the wake of the Eton College cheating scandal, the exam watchdog has announced.Exam boards will have to take tough measures to “protect the integrity” of assessments, Ofqual has said, as it concludes its review which was sparked by allegations of exam leaks by teachers at prestigious public schools.Under it’s the watchdog’s proposals, teachers will still be able to write assessments and have access to confidential materials.However, exam boards now will have to keep up-to-date records of all conflicts of interest linked to teachers involved in setting exams and put in safeguards to limit the risk of using teachers in this process.Boards will also have to put in place mechanisms to detect malpractice, such as by sampling the work of teachers who have written papers to look for unusual responses from their students.Ofqual chief Sally Collier said: “Our rules on confidentiality and malpractice are already demanding. The proposals we have put forward today build on them and provide greater clarity about our expectations and the implications for awarding organisations if information about an assessment is disclosed by a teacher who has been involved in its development.”She added that last year’s controversy over cheating “showed how public confidence in assessments and, in turn, qualifications, can be damaged if confidential information is wrongly used”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) exam board was also investigating concerns about irregularities surrounding Pre-U art history at both Eton and Winchester College.A statement issued by the Joint Council for Qualifications, on behalf of its member exam boards as well as school and college associations, said: “Malpractice undertaken by assessment setters involved in the production of question papers seriously damages the integrity of the entire examination system and undermines public confidence.”The very low number of such instances is due to the professional integrity of the vast majority of assessment setters (and others involved in the preparation of examination papers) and the current system of support and safeguards.”We welcome Ofqual’s review into teacher involvement in the setting of examination questions and handling of confidential materials and look forward to responding in detail to the consultation published today. “We endorse Ofqual’s position of supporting the continuing involvement of practising teachers in the examination system. Removing teachers from the process would have significant detrimental effects and expose the examinations system to unacceptable risks.”Last December, Ofqual said that the number of incidents where the integrity of exams were brought into question by the behaviour of teachers or examiners was “very small”. It said that “proven cases of inappropriate disclosure by teachers who had been involved with developing assessment materials are rare”, pointing out there were three cases in 2015, one in 2016 and three in 2017.last_img