Daily Telegraph Investigation – update
14 December 2011
WJEC have undertaken an in-depth internal investigation into the issues raised by the Daily Telegraph after their undercover visits to training courses run by awarding organisations in England. We are extremely concerned about the allegations made by the paper, and are co-operating fully with regulators in England (Ofqual) and in Wales (DfES) in their investigations. We have yet to see the full versions of the recordings made by the Daily Telegraph, but we understand that these will be made available to awarding organisations within the next few days.
We wish to assure teachers, students and parents that they can have full confidence in the standards of qualifications offered by WJEC and in the integrity of our work in supporting teachers through professional development courses and specialist advice.
The standard of our qualifications and assessment is carefully upheld by WJEC and strictly monitored by the regulators. Statistical analyses carried out each year as part of the awarding process have shown that the standards of WJEC qualifications are comparable with those of all the main awarding organisations.
Our internal investigation into the allegations regarding GCSE History has established that:
- the security and integrity of future examinations have not been compromised by the examiners’ comments
- delegates to our training course would not have benefited unfairly from the advice they received: the information conveyed is available to all teachers and not only to those able to attend the course
The cyclical distribution of topic areas across sections of our GCSE History exams over a period of years is clearly set out in a Teachers’ Guide available on WJEC’s public website, and a similar cyclical pattern can also be found in other awarding organisations’ GCSE History specifications.
With respect to the comments made on the optional unit ‘The Development of the USA, 1929 – 2000’, we are clarifying information regarding the depth and breadth of study required for this unit on our website and via postal and email alerts to teachers, to avoid misunderstanding.
The wording used by the GCSE History examiners to deliver advice to delegates at the course attended by the Daily Telegraph reporters was unacceptable and inappropriate. This example – by two individuals from a total of over 5,000 examiners who work for WJEC - is not typical of the professional content of the training courses we provide for teachers throughout England and Wales.
Given the information received to date from the Daily Telegraph, discussions with Ofqual and other concerned parties, we will be taking the following actions:
- We will monitor future professional development courses, for example by recording them and ensuring that senior staff attend a representative sample
- We will improve the quality of advice and guidance we provide for contributors to courses and will review our contractual arrangements with them
- We will review the use of past examination exemplars covered within the courses
- We will maintain the rigorous checks we apply to all our specifications and support materials, as part of our continuous improvement processes
As a result of our initial internal investigations, we will also be conducting a full review of the rationale, aims, delivery methods and controls for our CPD programme, and we would welcome any joint review of this area, which could usefully be facilitated by the regulators.
A reference was made by the Daily Telegraph to WJEC’s relationship with the publishers, Hodder. We have no financial relationship with Hodder, nor with any other publisher. Further to the questions raised by the Daily Telegraph Hodder have rescinded their initial statement and confirm that there is no ‘exclusivity agreement’ between WJEC and Hodder. We co-operate with a number of different publishers by advising on the content of texts which they produce in support of WJEC qualifications, for the benefit of students and teachers, however this advice is provided free of charge by WJEC and we receive no financial reward.
As a charity, WJEC has no interest in making profits; our financial aims relate to the need to invest in our products and services for the public benefit. The training courses we organise to provide feedback on exams cost £120 per day and not the £200 or more suggested in recent press reports. We aim to minimise the costs to centres and often subsidise the events to ensure that centres throughout the UK are not disadvantaged in any way. When introducing new specifications, we offer free courses to all centres and teachers: the need for guidance through face-to-face events is clearly greater when there has been considerable change compared with a previous specification. We also produce a growing number of high quality educational resources to support our qualifications, and most of these are freely available online to teachers and students.
WJEC’s mission is “to provide high quality public qualifications, resources and services to assist schools and colleges in enabling individuals to fulfil their potential”. We are confident in our ability to fulfil this mission, and we find that increasing numbers of teachers in England and Wales use our specifications because they are products of high quality that are accompanied by excellent support.
For more information please contact:
Ceri Thomas, Marketing & Communications Manager
Telephone: 029 2026 5309
Dafydd Wyn, Communications Officer
Telephone: 029 2026 5102