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GCSE Computing teachers cry victory as board decides NOT to bin tech teens' work

'No suggestion of widespread malpractice', Cambridge Assessment now says

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Frustrated GCSE Computing teachers who battled against OCR's shambolic handling of cheating claims say they are relieved to see the awarding body has finally reached a "common sense" decision on the matter.

The exam board, which is part of Cambridge Assessment, had backtracked on an earlier notice that had said that it had learned of "a number of websites promoting worked answers for all of OCR's GCSE computing live controlled assessment tasks."

However, it didn't reveal exactly when this information had first been handed to the OCR. It has been claimed by at least one teacher that the exam board was alerted to the issue last autumn, but - it was alleged - had failed to act on it until now.

Last Friday, the OCR said it was withdrawing GCSE units A452 and A453 "with immediate effect".

As The Register reported earlier today, the awarding body backed away from that decision and insisted that it had posted the wrong announcement in error. But its comments only came after a Twitterstorm of complaints from computing teachers and worried parents.

In a fresh statement just posted on the OCR website, the exam board appeared to suggest that it had only been aware of the cheating claims since last week:

The availability of model answers to live controlled assessment tasks for two units of GCSE Computing J275 on a number of public websites means OCR has had to act so that the assessment is not compromised and all students receive the result they deserve.

One course of action that OCR follows if sensitive information such as this is available is to ask public websites to remove the information as soon as possible. After a school got in touch last week to raise its concerns, OCR reviewed the options in line with regulatory requirements.

We have now completed that review - and while there is no suggestion of widespread malpractice - we have to act to avoid the slightest possibility that one candidate could gain an unfair advantage over another. As a result, we have decided that with immediate effect OCR will withdraw the existing controlled assessment tasks and will be replacing them for the next academic year on Interchange by 15 September 2014.

The outfit added that it was sorry for the cockup:

To avoid penalising the vast majority of hard-working students and teachers, those candidates who have completed or just started their controlled assessment tasks with entries in June 2015 will still be able to submit their work.

Schools and colleges will however be asked to submit the names of their candidates and the tasks for each unit by the end of September, and we will be in touch over the coming weeks with further details. OCR’s examiners will be extra vigilant when overseeing the marking process and will use a range of tools to ensure that no candidate has gained an unfair advantage.

We apologise for the disruption caused by this decision, and for an earlier communication posted in error on our website on Friday before today’s decision was reached.

Computing teachers reacted positively to OCR's U-turn.

But questions remain unanswered on exactly how long the exam board had been aware of the online leaks of answers to some of the GCSE Computing assessment tasks.

El Reg has put this question to Cambridge Assessment, but it hadn't got back to us at time of writing. ®

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