Edexcel further maths A-level paper replaced amid cheating concerns

An A-level paper due to be sat by thousands of pupils this Thursday is to be replaced amid concerns over cheating, the exam board Edexcel has said.

An investigation by Pearson, Edexcel’s parent company, has found that a packet containing copies of its further maths A-level paper was opened at a school.

The breach was identified after a probe into the same school, which has not been named, was launched after sections of the A-level maths paper 3 exam were shared on social media last week. Police are investigating the latter alleged leak.

Our message to students is not to worry about this and focus on your revision as you normally would

Pearson has said today its own probe found that “a packet containing the further maths paper…had been opened by an individual at the centre”.

The exam board said that although there was “no current evidence” to suggest that the further maths paper “or any of its questions” have been shared, it is “taking the necessary precautionary steps to safeguard the exam for the students sitting it”.

“We are making arrangements to deliver the papers to all centres shortly before the exam, apart from the centre that is the focus of our investigation, where we are making separate arrangements to ensure these students can complete their exams.

“Centres with entries for this qualification will receive communications from us this morning. If any centres still have questions after receiving this, we encourage them to get in touch with us directly.”

Around 7,000 pupils were due to sit the further maths paper this week.

Sharon Hague, Pearson’s senior vice president, said: “We have reached out to all of our centres directly to inform them of this decision.

“We will continue to support and communicate with them through this unusual yet necessary step, that is vital for the safeguarding of confidence in the examination system and to ensure fairness for all learners.

“Our message to students is not to worry about this and focus on your revision as you normally would.”

An Ofqual spokesperson said: “Students, parents and teachers have been understandably upset by the rare, irresponsible actions of one centre which breached the security of Pearson’s maths exam taken on Friday. This is completely unacceptable.

“The integrity of the exam system relies on the trust and diligence of exams officers, teachers, students, exam boards and their suppliers and social media companies – the vast majority of whom take seriously their responsibilities. When that trust is breached our priority, and that of exam boards, is to protect the interests of hard working students.”

Ofqual will be “closely monitoring Pearson’s investigation and its approach to awarding the qualification”, the spokesperson said.

“Our aim is that the outcomes are fair to students. We have been assured by Pearson’s prompt action on Friday to identify the source of the breach and the involvement of the police. As a result of risks identified during its investigation, Pearson has taken the precautionary decision to protect students by replacing the paper for Thursday’s A level further maths exam.

“We will continue to work with the exam boards to make sure the remaining exams of the summer are safely taken. Once results are issued, we will review the summer, including this incident, and consider what more can be done to protect the integrity of the exam system.”