Call to fine exam boards which break the rules

Author: By Alison Kershaw, Press Association

Awarding bodies are competing in a “race to the bottom” as they battle to make
their courses attractive to schools and students, Dr Richard Pike claimed.

He said boards should face penalties in the same way that Forumla 1 drivers
are banned if they break the rules, or as those who break competition laws
are fined.

Speaking at the opening of a new chemistry block at Millfield School in
Somerset today, Dr Pike will say: “Evidence gathered recently by the science
community has identified entire science papers with no underlying
mathematics, and science questions with no science. This is a blatant breach
of expected standards.”

He will add: “As examining boards compete to makes their wares more attractive
to schools and pupils, it really is ‘a race to the bottom’, with each one
pushing the boundaries set by the regulators and sometimes going right
through them.

“Even attempts to make topics more relevant through the How Science Works
initiative, as demanded by specifications, have been largely abandoned in
some cases, as boards focus on simplicity and multiple choice questions.

“In any other endeavour, this would be unacceptable. Break the rules in
Formula 1, and you get banned. Contravene competition law, and you get fined.

“A million pound surcharge would focus the mind of any examining board chief
executive and overnight would do more than years of ‘discussion between
stakeholders’.”

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