GCSE exams called into disrepute


A chief examiner has been caught on camera boasting that the GCSE exam she set was so simple she was amazed it was approved by regulators.

Steph Warren, who works for Edexcel, urged teachers to pick her company’s geography syllabus because ‘you don’t have to teach a lot’.

Ms Warren, who sets tests for thousands of students, was suspended after being secretly filmed making the remarks to an undercover reporter from the Daily Telegraph.

She said: ‘There’s so little (in the exam), we don’t know how we got it through (the exam regulator). And I’m deadly serious about that. When I looked at it I thought, “how is this ever going to get through?”.
‘It (the course content) is a lot less, it’s a lot smaller, and that’s why a lot of people came to us.’

Another Edexcel official boasted about how easy the coursework was on one of the board’s A-Level courses.

‘We let you do anything you want at A2 (the second year of A-Levels). So weak kids, you can get them through on anything really,’ she said.

A spokesman for Edexcel said: 'Our examiners have a duty to uphold high academic standards at all times and like us, they should take this responsibility very seriously.

'In the video Steph Warren appears to imply that the standard of the specification is not as high as it should be.

'In light of the video the Telegraph has made available, there is strong evidence that Steph has not taken her responsibility to uphold standards seriously.

'We will investigate both this issue and the allegations regarding disclosure of future exam content, and during this, suspend her from her duties as an examiner. We will not pre-judge the outcome of any investigation.

'We take this action in the knowledge that Steph regrets the comments she made. Steph has a long and distinguished career in teaching.'

Education Secretary Michael Gove said he will take any action necessary to restore confidence in GCSEs and A-level. He said: "Our exams system needs fundamental reform. These revelations confirm that the current system is discredited.

"Glenys Stacey, the new Chief Executive of the exams regulator Ofqual, has agreed plans with my department to investigate exam boards’ behaviour. I have asked Glenys Stacey to investigate the specific concerns identified by the Telegraph, to examine every aspect of the exam boards' conduct which gives rise to concern and to report back to me within two weeks with her conclusions and recommendations for further action.

"As I have always maintained, it is crucial our exams hold their own with the best in the world. We will take whatever action is necessary to restore faith in our exam system. Nothing is off the table."

It is understood the heads of the exam boards covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland will now be called in front of MPs on the Commons Education Select Committee.

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