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‘Malpractice’ row hits A-Level students and staff at Spalding Grammar School




Spalding Grammar School. (2520996)
Spalding Grammar School. (2520996)

Spalding Grammar School is at the centre of a ‘malpractice’ row involving A-Level geography students and staff.

A parent, who asked not to be named, claimed that teachers “operated outside the guidelines” set by examiners for how students should carry out their coursework.

Up to 20 A-Level geography students at the school fear they will receive a “zero” mark for their coursework, which makes up 20 per cent of the overall mark, although this has been strongly denied by the school.

The Spalding Guardian understands that officials from the Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society of Arts (OCR) exam board visited Spalding Grammar School within the last months and took written statements from students and staff about the way the “independent investigation” part of the A-Level course was led.

According to the parent, geography staff “looked at the work which the students were doing, with a view to giving them feedback in order for the students to improve it”.

The parent said: “Teachers can give advice across the whole group, but not individual comments.

“However, what has transpired is that all the students had some degree of assistance, even those who didn’t want it or questioned it.

“We queried this ourselves at a parents’ evening as to whether it was acceptable and we were assured that it was, as long as it was only verbal feedback to the group.

“Somebody blew the whistle to the OCR in May and they came straight into school where the students and staff were put into different rooms.

“The students were then to to write down what had transpired, with the teachers themselves having to explain their actions in a similar away.”

OCR guidelines state that “learners’ investigations must be independent” and any “feedback/guidance about how to improve work would constitute malpractice”.

Steven Wilkinson, headmaster at Spalding Grammar School, said: "I can confirm that the school was contacted by OCR in relation to the A-Level Geography course and that an investigation was conducted.

Steven Wilkinson, headmaster of Spalding Grammar School. Photo supplied. (3018024)
Steven Wilkinson, headmaster of Spalding Grammar School. Photo supplied. (3018024)

Steven Wilkinson, headmaster at Spalding Grammar School, said: "I can confirm that the school was contacted by OCR in relation to the A-Level Geography course and that an investigation was conducted.

"OCR has taken issue with the assistance given by teachers in relation to the non-exam assessment unit of the course.

"However, I consider its interpretation of the evidence to be flawed and the suggestion that the marks this school submitted are not an accurate reflection of the students’ independent work to be misguided.

"I have therefore launched an appeal but, whatever the outcome of that appeal, it is not the case that the students will receive a zero score for that unit.

"I am saddened by the thought that a parent, as the evidence suggests to me it is, has chosen to contact the examination board, rather than bring any concerns they may have had to my attention.

"This, and the subsequent actions of, I believe, the same parent, in now airing these concerns publicly seems designed solely to sully the reputation of the school and the teachers who work tirelessly in support of the students.

"It is a great disappointment to me that any parent would use other people’s children as pawns in such a game."

An exam board spokesman said: "OCR neither confirms nor denies any malpractice investigations because they are confidential for legal reasons."



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