Guidance

Ofqual’s whistleblowing policy

How you can raise concerns about your employer’s role in delivering a qualification regulated by Ofqual.

Whistleblowing to Ofqual is one way in which a worker can raise a concern about wrongdoing, risk or malpractice. This may relate to:

  • exams, such as GCSEs and A levels
  • key stage tests (SATs)
  • assessment of vocational or technical qualifications listed on the Register of Regulated Qualifications
  • activities of exam boards or awarding bodies (also called awarding organisations) which we regulate

We encourage you to contact Ofqual if you wish to raise a concern (called ‘making a disclosure’) about the activities of awarding organisations and the qualifications they offer. If you want to ‘blow the whistle’ to us, we encourage you to:

  1. Read the GOV.UK page on whistleblowing.
  2. Report the concerns to your employer first, if you feel that you are able to.
  3. Seek independent legal advice to satisfy yourself that you are protected by law, if you wish to report to Ofqual.
  4. Make sure what you are reporting actually counts as whistleblowing.

Report to Ofqual

Report wrongdoing or malpractice using Ofqual’s whistleblowing report form.

You can also make whistleblowing reports by phone, email or letter.

Whistleblowing and malpractice

Complaints investigation manager
Ofqual
Spring Place
Herald Avenue

Coventry
CV5 6UB

The phone line is open on weekdays from 9am to 5pm except bank holidays.

Detail to provide in a whistleblowing disclosure

Examples of concerns you can raise with us, include:

  • an awarding organisation worker making a disclosure about wrongdoing, such as malpractice, within the organisation or failure to comply with our regulations
  • a worker in a centre making a disclosure about wrongdoing, such as exam malpractice or the incorrect assessment conduct at a centre

The more detail you can give us, the more it will help us assess your concern. It would be useful if you could provide information such as:

  • details of the people and organisations involved, including where it has happened
  • full details of your concerns, including the qualifications/subjects involved
  • key dates
  • any supporting documents and evidence

We do not encourage you to gather any further information from any source, whatever the circumstances. This might infringe privacy rights or other legal requirements. However, we may ask you to clarify the information you provide to us.

What to expect

We take all whistleblowing reports seriously, and anyone who reports to us as a whistleblower will be told whether we are able to investigate their concerns or not.

We will

  • confirm receipt of your report within 3 working days, if you provided contact details
  • contact you within another 10 working days to let you know if we can investigate your report or not

If we can look into your concern, we will usually

  • investigate your report if it relates to an awarding organisation that we regulate
  • ask the awarding organisation to investigate your report if it is about a centre which delivers their qualification
  • do our best to keep you informed, in general terms, of any investigation outcome. However we may not be able to do this if there are legal or confidentiality issues

We may

  • contact you for further information if needed, but recommend you don’t seek to gather further evidence as this may affect any legal protection you have
  • share your details with the awarding organisation investigating the report, if you have given us permission to do so
  • share your information with other organisations, such as government departments, enforcement agencies and the police if we think it is necessary
  • suggest another course of action if we consider your report isn’t a whistleblowing disclosure

We cannot

  • tell you whether you are protected as a whistleblower
  • provide any legal advice

Should you make a disclosure to Ofqual?

Ofqual is a prescribed body for whistleblowing. This means that you can make a disclosure to Ofqual rather than your employer, as long as you meet the definition of a worker in relation to the organisation you are whistleblowing about.

A ‘worker’ is a defined legal term and includes, for example, employees and agency staff. Although not exhaustive, examples of a worker for the purposes of this policy could include someone who works for:

  • an awarding organisation we regulate
  • a school, college or other centre which uses an awarding organisation we regulate

It does not include volunteers or members of the public.

Any worker, whether a permanent or temporary employee, may report wrongdoing in their workplace to us about concerns relating to our work.

Where a worker raises a concern about wrongdoing in their workplace, the whistleblowing provisions of employment rights laws provide the worker with rights if they consider they have been victimised at work, or if they have lost their job because they have ‘blown the whistle’.

You can make a disclosure to Ofqual if you reasonably believe that:

  • the matter falls within Ofqual’s remit, for example, that it relates to an exam or assessment or about an awarding organisation we regulate
  • the information shows one or more of the six specified types of wrongdoing has taken place, is taking place or is likely to take place
  • the information is substantially true
  • the disclosure is in the public interest, in that the disclosure directly affects a wider group of people than just the individual making the disclosure

Anonymity and confidentiality

If you are worried about being identified as a whistleblower, you can make a disclosure to Ofqual anonymously. We treat anonymous disclosures just as seriously as those made openly. But if you make a disclosure anonymously, we may not be able to investigate your concerns as effectively.

We encourage you to give us information in writing, even if you initially contact us by telephone. If you are worried about doing this, we would prefer you to provide an anonymous disclosure to us, rather than not raise a concern about serious wrongdoing at all.

We can’t guarantee your confidentiality. We may need to disclose your identity where we are required to do so, for example, by law. But we take the issue of maintaining the confidentiality of whistleblowers seriously and we will protect your identity as far as possible. You should also recognise that you might be identifiable by others due to the nature or circumstances of your concern.

Privacy statement

Ofqual is a data controller for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998. We hold and process in accordance with the principles set out in the Data Protection Act. Any personal data (including personal data of other individuals or persons) supplied to us in the course of the exercise of our statutory functions.

Any information supplied to Ofqual, including whistleblowing disclosures, may be used in connection with any of our statutory functions.

As an open and transparent regulator, we will publish an annual summary of activity in relation to whistleblowing. This will not include any individual’s details

Published 21 April 2017