Exam malpractice


You may be aware of instances of exam malpractice by members of staff at your school. You may feel apprehensive to report exam malpractice in case of any repercussions from your headteacher or line manager.

This article explains what exam maladministration is, what to do if you suspect it and which organisations you can report to.

What is exam malpractice?

Exam malpractice generally:

  • Affects the integrity, security or confidentiality of exams such as SATs or GCSEs
  • Could lead to results and/or outcomes that don’t reflect pupils’ unaided work or actual abilities

It can include theses specific examples:

  • Early opening of test papers or materials without permission
  • Schools making changes to pupils’ test scripts
  • Inflating or deflating teacher assessment judgements to influence school assessment
  • Moving the date and time of a fixed exam without notifying the examining board
  • Assisting or prompting candidates with the production of answers

What should I do if I suspect exam malpractice?

Your school might have a whistleblowing policy which will outline the steps for you to take. These policies will often explain to discuss your suspicions with your head of centre, which is quite often the headteacher. If you feel you can not do this you can contact the organisations we outline below.

Another article on Edapt outlines how you can whistleblow at your school.

Who should I report to if I suspect malpractice?

Primary schools

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) will investigate matter of maladministration for the National Curriculum Assessments. This includes the year 1 phonics screening checks and the KS1 and KS2 SATs tests. It has produced guidance on the procedures to follow. If you would like to contact the maladministration team at the STA their details are below:

Email: [email protected] 

National curriculum assessments helpline: 0300 303 3013

Secondary schools

You will want to contact the relevant examining body. The examining boards will treat your information sensitively and confidentially. They should respect your request to remain anonymous, unless they are legally obliged to report the identity of the person making the allegation.

Below, we link to the maladministration pages of some of the main examining bodies:

If you believe that you may be victimised by raising such issues with your head of centre or if you feel that your senior management team is involved then you may wish to contact us for further advice and support.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
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