Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Mobile phone exam cheats 'on the rise'

Pupils taking examinations
Pupils were caught cheating using mobile phones and taking in notes

Figures released to the BBC by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) have indicated that cheating on exams has escalated among candidates.

The number of guilty cases climbed by 22%, to 314, from 2008 to 2009.

The number of cases of cheating using a mobile phone, some of which have internet access, has more than doubled.

The SQA said the penalties for cheating ranged from zero marks for individual exam papers to disqualification from all examinations.

Other forms of malpractice or cheating on exams included pupils caught colluding and taking in notes.

Last year about 160,000 candidates took 736,920 exams which resulted in 506 cases of cheating being investigated, with penalties being applied to 314 candidates.

If you look at the percentage rises, yes it sounds a lot, but the numbers that are cheating are very low and I think we need to understand how we can prepare pupils better for examinations
Dr Janet Brown
Scottish Qualifications Authority

This equated to 0.04% of the total, slightly above the level of 0.03% in England.

In 2008, there were 750,559 exams taken with 673 cheating cases investigated.

A total of 257 pupils were found to have broken the rules.

Mobile phones

And the number of cases of cheating using a mobile phone rose from 49 in 2008 to 113 in 2009.

Chief Executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Dr Janet Brown said: "We need to be aware and it is very important that we do address this issue but lets keep it in perspective."

She added: "If you look at the percentage rises, yes it sounds a lot, but the numbers that are cheating are very low and I think we need to understand how we can prepare pupils better for examinations.

"How they can feel confident that they are able to achieve, and I think that it is one of those things that Scottish education does very well."

The exam board said that all candidates are warned of the consequences of cheating in an information booklet they receive prior to taking their examinations.



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