Faith schools banned from redacting evolution questions

March 31st, 2014 by Rachel Kamm

Ofqual has issued a statement today on whether schools can redact examination papers:

“We have today written to all awarding organisations to set out our position on the redaction, or blacking out, of certain exam paper questions.  This position has been supported by the relevant exam boards.

“Having looked into the issue, we concluded that while the practice was very rare, it should not be allowed.  Denying learners access to all the questions on a paper prevents the candidate achieving their full potential and therefore disadvantages them. It also threatens the validity of the qualification.

“If awarding organisations suspect that schools or centres are redacting exam papers in the future we would expect them to act in the same way as they would for any other case of malpractice.”

TES reported today that:

” OCR, the board involved, had previously said the most reasonable approach was to “come to an agreement” with schools out of need to respect religious beliefs. But today, it also published a statement clarifying its position, saying: “We have now been able to consider our position and have concluded that as a matter of policy schools should not be permitted to tamper with question papers prior to a student sitting an exam.””

This follows recent media interest on the issue, including that Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School (an Orthodox Jewish institution in Hackney, east London) had blocked out questions about evolution on 52 test papers in two separate exams last year.

Ofqual’s statement applies equally to faith schools and non-faith schools; it prohibits redactions of  questions on any ground.

Rachel Kamm, 11KBW

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