Schools must restart 20-hour computer science test amid security concerns

The exam board Edexcel has replaced the non-examined assessment (NEA) component of its computer science GCSE, leaving schools having to find time for up to 20 additional hours in their timetables for pupils.

An error in the security settings for the NEA means pupils may have seen the content of the test in advance, according to a statement from the exam board.

This has led Edexcel to “remove” the original task and replace it with a new one.

All pupils studying the GCSE must now begin a new 20-hour-long, computer-based test from scratch, no matter how much of the previous test they had already completed.

We’re sorry that your centre has been placed in this position

In some cases, where pupils have completed the entire original test, schools will have to schedule a further 20 hours of scarce computer lab time.

Edexcel said it was aware the error meant some schools would have to find extra timetable slots and has apologised.

“We’re sorry that your centre has been placed in this position,” the exam board said in a statement.

“We have to balance the need for centres to schedule additional sessions with maintaining the integrity of the assessment.

“We have judged at this point in the window that there is sufficient time for a new task to be released and completed by candidates.”

According to Edexcel, the NEA task “should be a secure document which can only be downloaded by centres’ Edexcel Online administrators”.

The task document should have been accessible “only to centres that had made either actual or estimated entries for the qualification”, they said.

“However, due to an error in the access settings applied to the document, other centres that are registered to download material from our website have also been able to access and download the document.”

Due to this error, candidates “might have access to the NEA task” prior to undertaking it in a supervised environment at their centres, they said.

“As a result we have decided to remove the original NEA task and replace it with a new task.”

Edexcel has also urged schools to ensure the replacement task is only provided to pupils under controlled conditions, and that pupils are “fully aware that they are not to discuss or share any details about the task with anyone outside controlled conditions”.

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

One comment

  1. John Watson

    How can you expect teenagers to not talk about the task outside of the classroom, and even if they do how could you possibly police it? Are Edexcel expecting teachers to carry out MI5 level surveillance on their students? Teachers can only control what happens within their classroom. Even if the students do talk about it, they still have to complete the work individually, they can’t do the work for each other or help while it is being done. How is that different to revising topics for an exam together?