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Confidential exam information shared on social media by students
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Education & Skills

Confidential exam information shared on social media by students 

Thousands of Scottish school students have been exchanging confidential exam paper questions on social media platforms, including TikTok, it has been revealed.

Young people have been sharing with one another the contents of significant assessments run by schools that will determine their grades, following the cancellation of the Scottish Qualification Authority’s (SQA) national examinations due to Covid-19.

Because it is not a requirement for schools to deliver the assessments at the same time, students have been able to reveal exam questions in social media posts, triggering hundreds of conversations in the comments.

One post on TikTok – a popular video-sharing platform – showed the essay questions for Higher human biology and quickly garnered 15,000 likes and almost 4,000 comments.

In the comments below the video, one students “begs” for information on the Advanced Higher biology papers, while another writes “what was in the higher maths and chemistry paper”.

Another post read: “NAT5/higher if you have done a exam help other people out in the comments!!”

This comes after teachers last week complained that the exam replacement system is ‘a shambles’ and warned that students were already posting exam questions on social media.

In response to the news, which went viral among the teaching community after breaking yesterday morning, the SQA sent an email out to schools saying “it has been made aware of very serious incidents involving candidates sharing confidential assessment information on social media” and that it was “taking this matter very seriously.”

Despite this statement, there are seemingly no plans to change or replace the assessment programme.

An SQA spokesperson said: “The security and confidentiality of assessment material protects its integrity and helps ensure fairness to all learners. SQA has provided secure assessment materials to help teachers and lecturers gather evidence for provisional results, if they choose to use them.

“Teachers and lecturers have the flexibility to decide how and when to use these materials, which can be used in part or in their entirety. However, we are taking these incidents very seriously and are contacting schools and colleges to ensure that posts are removed as soon as possible.”

When asked how students will be penalised for engaging in malpractice, the SQA spokesperson said:

“SQA has reminded schools and colleges of the guidance provided last month regarding the security and confidentiality of assessment materials. Learners should also be reminded that they must not discuss or share the content of such materials.

“As National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications are being assessed internally this year, any malpractice concerns will be managed by schools and colleges. If a school or college is made aware of a potential case of malpractice, not only should they notify SQA, but also apply their own malpractice procedures as quickly as possible.”

Teachers took to Twitter to express their frustration with the SQA, including English teacher and education journalist James McEnaney.

He said: “What penalities are they proposing exactly? Should a student be failed because they talked about the content of an exam after they sat it? It’s an utterly ridiculous position to adopt and if they don’t know that they’re even more useless than even I thought.

“The SQA has treated pupils (and teachers) with complete contempt throughout the pandemic, harming their mental health in the process. And now it wants to see them punished so they can again dodge responsibility for their own incompetence.”

In response to his tweet, Miss Stark, a physics teacher, said: “Absolutely ridiculous. Have we to monitor their social media? We can remind and instruct them regularly but how on Earth are we as classroom teachers supposed to manage this?”

Another teacher, confused, asked: “What are these malpractice procedures we are supposed to have?”

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