EXAM boards have called for a ban on watches as they claim new smartwatches can be used to cheat.
Invigilators claim it is becoming increasingly hard to spot flashy smartwatches -which are already banned from exams – and have instead proposed a blanket ban on all wristwatches to stop students using internet enabled devices to google answers and access emails.
Exam boards say that despite there being very little cheating amongst students, internet-enabled devices pave the way for increasing ‘malpractice’[/caption]
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents exam boards in the UK, have also proposed “toilet sweeps” to catch cheating pupils hiding notes or devices in the loo.
Although JCQ insist there is a “very low level of cheating,” the proposed changes are set to improve the system and prevent “malpractice.”
CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE
Sir John Dunford, chairman of the review which recommended the watch ban, said detected malpractice is “disproportionately damaging when it occurs so it needs dealing with”.
“What is really difficult is with some watches you can just swap between the two very easily,” he said.
“It can look as if it’s a time-telling watch and actually, you press a button and it becomes an email-type watch and if you don’t ban them all I think you’re giving a very difficult job to invigilators who are looking round an exam room.
“So I think the obvious thing to do here is to ban watches.”
Under JCQ rules, all exam centres – such as schools and colleges – must have clocks in exam rooms.
The review says: “Due to the proliferation of smartwatches and increases in their capabilities, and the difficulty for invigilators in being able to distinguish between smartwatches and non-smartwatches, all watches should be banned from examination rooms.”
It also says “toilet sweeps should be utilised during examinations season to prevent instances of candidates secreting notes, devices and other materials in toilet cubicles, where they cannot be supervised.”
‘MUST RETHINK EXAMS’
JCQ also raised concerns about pupil’s dependency on technology to tell the time – and have promised that, in the event of a watch ban “plenty of clocks” would be available in exam halls.
“Some young people apparently can’t tell the time on a clock unless it’s got numbers on and so on,” Sir John said.
As well as this, JCQ also noted the increasing number of students who opted for special arrangements in exams, and called for more research on the issue.
According to reports, there has been a 27 per cent growth in special consideration approvals in the last three years.
Official figures show that in the summer of 2018, pupils in England were penalised on 2,735 occasions for cheating in GCSE, AS and A-level exams, while 620 penalties were given to school and college staff.
The most common type of pupil cheating in 2018 was smuggling “unauthorised materials” – like a smartphone – into exams.
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Students caught with unauthorised materials are set to lose marks and can even be disqualified from the exam altogether, incurring an automatic fail.
The review focused on modernising the system to accommodate young people’s increasing access to materials that could potentially be used to cheat.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “In the longer term, we must rethink an exam system which is rooted in a pen-and-paper era that feels increasingly like an anachronism and is threatened by technologies which facilitate cheating.”
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