Rotherham teacher suspended after claims he knew what was on GCSE exam

By Adele Forrest | 25/08/2017

Rotherham teacher suspended after claims he knew what was on GCSE exam
Oakwood High School

PUPILS will not have to re-sit their English GCSE exam despite claims their teacher knew what was going to appear on a paper and ran tailored revision sessions.

The Oakwood High School teacher - understood to be head of English Michael Smith, who is also an AQA exam board member - was suspended in July.

The school said it could not confirm or deny which teacher was being investigated but confirmed alleged malpractice was being examined.

Head teacher David Naisbitt said there had been an irregularity in pupils’ results in an English literature exam but reassured students who collected their results yesterday that they would not have to resit the paper.

He insisted pupils were “entirely innocent” and had covered the full revision course.

One parent, whose son was a pupil at another school, said her child had been told by a friend at Oakwood that students had been told which two out of a possible 15 poems they needed to study for their English literature exam.

The mother, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s disgusting and not fair.”

Students sitting exams this year took part in revised GCSEs in maths, English literature and English language, with scores of one to nine replacing A* to G grades.

In the English literature exam, students are no longer allowed to take copies of poems into the exam, instead being required to learn them by heart.

The mother added: “When I think of my son doing all that work and revising 15 poems and they’ve only done two, it’s morally not right.

“Those kids are going to get better results than my child and that’s cheating.”

The Advertiser understands suspicions arose internally after literature Mr Smith prepared and taught in a revision boot camp was similar to what came up in the two GCSE English exams.

Mr Naisbitt said: “The school is investigating allegations that a member of staff, who also works for an examination board, had access and insight into the content of one examination.  

“Working in co-operation with the examination board, it has been determined that on one paper there is no indication that the results achieved by pupils show any irregularity.  

“In the other paper, the examination board noted that there may have been a marginal statistical impact.  

“We do not believe that this will make a significant difference to the results our pupils are expecting.

“I want to make it very clear that the pupils are entirely innocent in this incident and had no idea about the alleged actions taken by the member of staff.  

“They worked hard throughout their course of study, covering the entire syllabus and undertaking the full range of revision associated with the subject.

“They could not have known that this member of staff was allegedly aware of the content of the examinations.”

The head teacher said AQA’s investigation had determined that there was no need to re-sit the exam.

An AQA spokeswoman said its senior examiners, who help write its exam papers, were often experienced classroom teachers but it had “checks in place that make it easy for us to tell if their students have been given any kind of advantage - although it’s extremely rare for this to happen”.

The spokeswoman would not confirm if Mr Smith had been suspended or what checks had been carried out.

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