Applies to England
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Detail of outcome
We are committed to putting students and apprentices first, making sure they are treated fairly in their exams and assessments and their qualifications are valued. For qualifications to be valued, those who use qualifications, such as HE institutions and employers, must be confident that they are an accurate reflection of what a student knows, understands and can do.
When we consider the number of qualifications that are awarded each year, incidents of malpractice and maladministration are rare. However, to be fair to students and apprentices, and to maintain confidence in their qualifications, any incident or suspicion of malpractice and maladministration must be identified and investigated and appropriate action taken against those who are responsible.
Ofqual already has strong rules in place for awarding organisations on preventing malpractice and maladministration, investigating suspicions of malpractice and maladministration and taking action against those responsible when it happens. However, we keep these requirements under review, making sure we learn from what we see in practice.
Ofqual is, accordingly, strengthening the regulatory framework by introducing updated and expanded guidance for awarding organisations on preventing and dealing with malpractice and maladministration. We have consulted on a draft of the guidance and are now publishing the final version, which reflects the feedback we received. The guidance will become part of Ofqual’s Handbook for awarding organisations.
The guidance is statutory guidance, to which all awarding organisations must have regard. An awarding organisation may choose to take a different approach to complying with our rules, but it would have to be able to explain why it had done so.
The guidance we have published is largely as consulted on. We have changed some of the drafting to improve clarity, and made some changes to improve readability in the published document. Following feedback, we have added examples to the Guidance to further support the understanding of awarding organisations. Awarding organisations should note that the examples are intended to be illustrative but not exhaustive. In every case awarding organisations must consider the specific context of any incident. The guidance will take effect on publication, and awarding organisations will need to ensure any student and centre facing documents are updated, as necessary, by 1 September 2022.
Detail of feedback received
We received 29 responses to our consultation. Of these, 18 were from organisations, and 11 were personal responses.
Responses by individuals
- Student: 1
- Parent: 5
- Teacher: 1
- Other: 4
Responses by organisations
- Awarding organisation or exam board: 15
- Group of awarding organisations: 2
- Other: 1
Location of respondents
- England: 25
- Wales: 2
- Northern Ireland: 1
- Scotland: 1
We publish guidance to help awarding organisations understand how to comply with their Conditions of Recognition. This consultation reflects changes we intend to make to our existing guidance in relation to malpractice and maladministration. Our existing guidance in this space takes the form of positive and negative indicators. We propose to adopt a clearer, narrative style of guidance that covers all the Conditions relevant to malpractice and maladministration, incorporating the current guidance into this new version where appropriate.
Our proposed changes have been informed by a review of suspected and proven incidents of malpractice and maladministration and other relevant information, including the Report of the JCQ’s Independent Commission of Examination Malpractice.
The new guidance is designed, among other things, to help awarding organisations to better appreciate:
- the differences between malpractice and maladministration, and the implications of this
- how they might act to prevent malpractice and maladministration
- the factors they might wish to consider when deciding who should investigate alleged malpractice and maladministration
- the considerations they should have in mind when deciding what action to take once malpractice and maladministration has been established
- how several Conditions might interact in relation to malpractice and maladministration
This consultation will close on 16 October at 23:45.