Ofqual wants stronger rules on SATs oversight amid cheating reports

The exams regulator wants rules around oversight of key stage 2 tests to be beefed up following reports of cheating.

Ofqual has written to the Standards Testing Agency, responsible for developing and delivering statutory assessments, to “suggest” the body strengthens its current guidance over SATs.

The STA currently recommends schools “should” arrange for key stage 2 tests to be independently observed.

But in an annual report on national assessments regulation today, Ofqual said this should be made into “more of an expectation or requirement”.

This would further support the “verification of the integrity of test administration”, said the regulator, which added that the STA is currently “considering” the language it uses around test observers.

Ofqual said the move follows “a number of media reports” that could impact public confidence around tests, although the regulator said the number of published maladministration data has “not suggested an increase”.

However, provisional data shows 2,688 test results were suppressed this year while the Standards and Testing Agency investigates maladministration, compared with just 723 last year.

It led to calls from one academy trust boss to shake up how tests are administered.

Sir John Townsley, chief executive of The Gorse Academies Trust, called for secondary teachers to be parachuted into primaries to oversee tests.

Ofqual said the STA is now putting new measures in place including strengthening guidance and communication to “support deterrence”. An example of this was adding requirements around conflicts of interest management to local authority monitoring guidance.

Local authorities already monitor more than the required 10 per cent of schools each year to ensure proper test administration is followed.

The STA is also working with councils to moderate specific schools in response to intelligence received over their teacher assessment.

Schools Week revealed that SATs results had been wiped at two academies belonging to the Harris Federation academy trust this year. The STA said at the time it had advised the school on how to “avoid future maladministration”.

The STA has been approached for comment.

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  1. The ideal answer would be to scrap SATs entirely. They’ve no educational value and waste time and money.
    That’s unlikely, of course given this government’s obsession with measuring schools by test results. In which case, the answer is to bring back area-wide testing run by independent invigilators as happened in the bad old days of the universal 11+.