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ADMISSION English Exams are Easy: “you don’t have to teach a lot’ for our tests”

Exam chief: ‘you don’t have to teach a lot’ for our tests Steph Warren, a chief examiner at Edexcel, one of Britain’s biggest exam boards, has been recorded boasting about the easiness of the company’s tests.

Ms Warren, the chief examiner for Edexcel GCSE Geography, said that teachers   should pick her company’s exam because “you don’t have to teach a lot”.

Ms Warren also expressed her disbelief that the geography exam had been   cleared by the official regulator.

She said: “There’s so little [in the exam] we don’t know how we got it through   [the exam regulator]”. She claimed it was “a lot smaller [than other boards]   and that’s why a lot of people came to us.”

The conversation, involving an undercover reporter and two teachers, took   place at an Edexcel seminar in Birmingham last month. It will also raise   concerns about the rigour of exam papers and standards.

The comments will fuel concerns by head teachers that competition between exam   boards has driven down standards and undermined the integrity of the   education system.


In a statement, Edexcel said: “We are certain that Edexcel exams meet the same   standards as other awarding bodies. We do not actively market them as easier   exams. When this has happened in the past we have acted quickly to tighten   up internal controls to ensure it does not happen again.”

The revelations over Ms Warren’s attitudes to her firm’s own exam come after The   Daily Telegraph disclosed how exam boards were found to have ‘cheated’   by giving secret advice to teachers on how to improve GCSE and A-level   results.

Two history examiners, Paul Evans and Paul Barnes, have been suspended   following the Telegraph’s first series of stories on Thursday into the   alleged “corrupt practices” of exam boards.

The two men were secretly filmed briefing teachers at paid-for seminars,   during which they gave advice on exam questions and the exact wording pupils   should use to obtain higher marks.

In one case, Mr Evans, a chief examiner with the Welsh WJEC exam board, was   recorded telling teachers that a compulsory question in a certain exam goes   through a “cycle”.

He added: “We’re cheating. We’re telling you the cycle (of the compulsory   question). Probably the regulator will tell us off.”


In a statement, the WJEC board said it was taking allegations of cheating “very   seriously indeed” and was “investigating the circumstances”   revealed by an undercover reporter as a matter of urgency.

Michael Gove, the education secretary, said the revelations “confirm that   the current system is discredited” and has ordered an inquiry by   Ofqual.

David Cameron’s official spokesman said: “We are very clear that our exam   system needs fundamental reform.

“The revelations we have seen today show our current system is   discredited. We are very clear we will take whatever action is necessary to   restore faith in the exam system.”

Asked if that meant last year’s exam results were not worth the paper they   were written on, he said: “I don’t think that’s the right conclusion to   draw but there’s clear a problem and we need to address that.”


Francis Thomas, director of internal and external affairs at Ofqual, said boards   could be fined or shut down altogether.

“An act of Parliament has just been passed that gives us powers to fine [exam   boards] and that will be in place early in the New Year,” he said. “But   actually the ultimate sanction we have got is we can actually take an   awarding organisation and put it out of business by telling it that it   cannot run exams any more.

“We need to look at the evidence and assess whether, at one end of the scale,   this is systematic right through the qualifications business or is this just   one or two rogue operators who have gone beyond their brief.

“Depending where it is on that scale we have the powers and we will take the   action because we do not want to see the confidence in our qualifications   system being undermined.”

Pupils facing examinations this January could have their papers “pulled” and   re-set, should exam boards be found to have given improper guidance over   expected questions.

An Edexcel spokesperson said:

“Our examiners have a duty to uphold high academic standards at all times and   like us, they should take this responsibility very seriously.

“In the video Steph Warren appears to imply that the standard of the   specification is not as high as it should be.

“In light of the video the Telegraph has made available, there is strong   evidence that Steph has not taken her responsibility to uphold standards   seriously.

“We will investigate both this issue and the allegations regarding disclosure   of future exam content, and during this, suspend her from her duties as an   examiner. We will not pre-judge the outcome of any investigation.

Comment: K991

I am a University teacher . Next September – as in most recent years – I will be confronted by lecture halls full of barely numerate and hardly literate students.Despite being some of the most highly qualified young people in history, many of them know almost nothing. I regularly have to reassure them that the Allies won the first world war. They are often unable to express themselves in any recognisable language, and most assume that the conjugation of verbs is a sex, rather than syntactical, act.

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