Computer exam leak ‘unfair advantage’ risk

The change affects pupils sitting the exam this year and next year
The change affects pupils sitting the exam this year and next year

Hundreds of Northern Ireland pupils will have their GCSE computer science coursework marks discounted to prevent “unfair advantage” after an online breach.

The decision – which will affect only those sitting the subject through the UK exam boards OCR, AQA, Eduqas and Pearson – was taken after details of the work tasks were leaked.

Pupils will still have to complete the computer programming exercise but will not receive a mark for that part of the course which was worth 25% of the total. The change affects only those due to sit the exam in 2018 and 2019.

Writing to students, Ofqual said the decision had been made “with reluctance” but was necessary to prevent anyone gaining an “unfair advantage,” the BBC reported.

“Some of this year’s tasks had been posted to online forums and collaborative programming sites, contrary to exam board rules,” they said.

“It is not possible to identify which students have accessed or used this information. We know that not everyone will agree with our decision. However if we do not act now, it would be impossible for us to correct any unfairness caused by rules being broken.”

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath said the development would add “further pressure to students,” and added: “Clearly there needs to be a review of this incident to ensure it cannot be repeated in the future.”