The exams regulator will review the rules that govern how teachers are involved in writing and reviewing exam papers, in the wake of a cheating scandal that has rocked several of England’s most famous private schools and has led to pupils having their results nullified.
Ofqual will look at the safeguards that are put in place to “prevent disclosure of confidential information” by teachers who set exams.
Mo Tanweer, a deputy head at Eton College, resigned earlier this month over allegations that he circulated questions from an upcoming economics exam to his colleagues.
He had also served as a “principal examiner” in economics with Cambridge International Examinations, which sets Pre-U exams, an alternative to A-levels.
Soon afterwards, Winchester College suspended its head of history of art, Laurence Wolff, over allegations that he gave students information on exam questions in two papers.
Ofqual said that having serving teachers help set exams has “many benefits”, and that instances of exam malpractice are “rare”.
However, access to live materials “must be appropriately controlled and risks to security minimised”.
“We will investigate whether the safeguards in place are sufficiently robust and whether changes are needed,” said the spokesperson announcing the review.
The regulator will provide a progress update in its summer report, to be published later this year.
Nick Gibb, the schools minister, branded cheating of any kind “unacceptable”, and said the public must have “confidence in the integrity of the exam system”.
“Exam regulator Ofqual is now reviewing the rules under which teachers take part in writing and reviewing question papers and have confirmed to me that they are considering whether action is needed.
“The overwhelming majority of teachers act appropriately when working with exam materials but where they do not schools have a responsibility to report it to the exam board for investigation.”