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Response to malpractice needs to move with the times, says NAHT

Commenting on the publication today (Tuesday 10 September) by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) of an Independent Commission into malpractice in the UK assessment system, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said:

"As this report confirms, malpractice is rare, but it is of course of serious concern in the small number of cases where it does occur. However, any additional response to manage the risk of malpractice must be proportionate to the size of the problem and the impact of any actions on the system as a whole must be carefully considered.

"A single definition of malpractice is a sensible recommendation and one which we have supported. There is a lack of understanding of the term and the range of actions and inactions which it can cover. We need a single, clear definition to be adopted which is easy for everyone, including students, to understand.

"Technology like smart watches and social media enables widespread sharing of information and can intensify the impact of any malpractice. Although a ban on watches as well as mobile phones would be the right thing to do, we must recognise the additional burden this places onto schools and their staff. There remain significant issues with enforcing the ban on mobile phones despite the best efforts of school staff. JCQ and the awarding organisations will need to consider what more they can do to support schools in practice.

"Budgets are already at breaking point, and workload is a constant problem. We would urge JCQ to be alive to the possibility that improvements may unintentionally add workload or cost to schools and colleges. JCQ and the awarding organisations must act to mitigate these potential negative impacts."

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363