Governance

Date published: 26/10/2021

FOI reference: 21/22 090

Date received: 05/10/2022

Date responded: 25/10/2021

Information requested

 I would be grateful if you could provide the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Earlier this year it was revealed that pupils were sharing information about the question papers they were sitting online using social networking sites like TikTok. In response SQA said that "appropriate penalties should be applied" if cases of "candidate malpractice" were identified.

SQA also said it had contacted centres “to ensure that posts are removed as soon as possible”

Could you please tell me:

  • How many centres did SQA contact to ensure posts were removed as soon as possible – can you make it clear how many of the centres were schools
  • Could you please provide the communication(s) that was/were sent by SQA to these schools/centres
  • How many candidates were accused of malpractice by centres in 2020-21
  • Can you please set out the different categories of candidate malpractice and make it clear how many candidates were in each category in 2020-21
  • Can you please set out the penalties available to schools in 2020-21 and the total number of each penalty issued to candidates
  • How many candidates were penalised for sharing exam questions on social media; what penalties did they receive
  • Could you provide candidate malpractice data for 2018-19

Response

  • How many centres did SQA contact to ensure posts were removed as soon as possible – can you make it clear how many of the centres were schools
    • Only centres where it was possible to identify the candidate and centre were contacted. Fewer than five centres were contacted and these were all schools.

 

  • Could you please provide the communication(s) that was/were sent by SQA to these schools/centres
    • Where the centre and candidate could be established, the following standard response was issued to the relevant SQA co-ordinator at the centre by e-mail:

Dear [SQA Coordinator]

We have been advised that a candidate [insert SCN] at your centre has posted information online in relation to [level/subject].  The following information was posted:

[screenshot information]

We ask that you take immediate action to notify the candidate and ensure that this information is removed as soon as possible. Please respond to SQA within one working day to confirm that this action has been taken. We also request that you notify your Head Teacher of this concern.

You will be aware that in our subject-specific guidance on gathering evidence in session 2020-21, which is available from our NQ subject webpages, we advise that if you use a question paper in part or in its entirety, you should remind candidates that they must not discuss the content of the paper on social media. Please ensure that this guidance is communicated to all teaching staff and candidates. 

SQA will not take any action against your candidate. However, we strongly recommend that you instigate your centre’s internal malpractice procedures to investigate this incident, given the seriousness of this concern and its potential impact on the integrity of certification for all candidates nationally.

Thank you for your cooperation and support.

 

  • How many candidates were accused of malpractice by centres in 2020-21
    • All candidate malpractice was devolved to centres in 2020-21. SQA did not collect this information from centres and does not hold the information requested. Section 17 of FOISA provides that where an authority does not hold information requested then it should notify the requester to that effect.

 

  • Can you please set out the different categories of candidate malpractice and make it clear how many candidates were in each category in 2020-21

All candidate malpractice was devolved to centres in 2020-21. SQA did not collect information from centres relating to the number of candidates in the various categories and does not hold the information requested. Section 17 of FOISA provides that where an authority does not hold information requested then it should notify the requester to that effect.

 

  • Can you please set out the penalties available to schools in 2020-21 and the total number of each penalty issued to candidates

All candidate malpractice was devolved to centres in 2020-21. SQA did not collect the information from centres relating to penalties issued to candidates and does not hold the information requested. Section 17 of FOISA provides that where an authority does not hold information requested then it should notify the requester to that effect.

 

  • How many candidates were penalised for sharing exam questions on social media; what penalties did they receive.
    • All candidate malpractice was devolved to centres in 2020-21. SQA did not collect the information from centres and does not hold the information requested. Section 17 of FOISA provides that where an authority does not hold information requested then it should notify the requester to that effect.