HMC statement: protecting teachers and ensuring probity in the setting and teaching of examinations

Posted on: 30 Aug 2017

Chris King, Chair of HMC and Head of Leicester Grammar School, issues a statement on the need to protect teachers and ensure probity in the setting and teaching of examinations.

"HMC understands the need for complete fairness and probity in setting and marking exams and has campaigned to improve quality assurance in exam boards and accurate grading for all pupils.

"We have been concerned for some time, particularly in the smaller entry qualifications, about the exam boards' reliance on teachers to both set exams and teach the students who will sit them.

"A meeting had been set with the Cambridge International exam board to discuss this summer’s Pre-U qualification to seek assurance that sufficient safeguards are in place. We need to ensure that senior teachers who take on the responsibility for setting exams are not placed in an impossible position, and the very few who may be tempted to give their pupils too much help cannot do so. We have now requested this meeting is held more urgently than first proposed by the board.

"It is clear that the heads of schools faced with recent allegations have acted quickly and openly to report matters to the relevant exam board, inform parents and ensure staff implicated leave the school.

"Whilst we regret any breach of security, this is very rare. There were nearly 4,300 Pre-U and 493,000 IGCSE exams taken last year there and only a handful of such cases. In its most recent figures, Ofqual reported 13 instances of malpractice across state and independent schools in 2016, in the context of over 15 million exam papers sat across 1,800 different public exams.

"It is clear therefore that the integrity of Pre-U, IGCSEs and all other qualifications remains and parents, universities and employers should continue to trust how they are organised. Nevertheless, all cases of malpractice are serious and greater transparency is needed.

“Therefore we are now asking the boards to consider new measures to avoid conflicts of interest between those who set exam papers and teach the students who take them."


For more information, please contact HMC external communications director Sue Bishop on 07787 294808 or email: