Exam cheating in the UK

Mobile phones have been blamed for a sharp rise in exam cheating. Almost 2,600 pupils were penalised for cheating in their GCSE or A-level exams last summer, up 25% on the previous year. Half of those students had been found with “unauthorised materials” in exam halls; in most cases, this was a phone.

What on Earth is the point of cheating? It is in the personal interest of all children to learn, to learn to learn and to go on doing so throughout life. Do the cheaters take any pleasure in the fact that they “passed” an exam by cheating? Are they proud of it or secretly ashamed, and will it turn out to be a lifetime pattern? In my school two boys were caught with crib sheets on their laps during a public exam. They were immediately expelled from the school. One was in later life jailed for some crime whose details I don’t know, so maybe he was simply a born crook, if there is such a thing. I personally think that it gives one a feeling of self-confidence to actually know the material and be able to put it down on paper lucidly and correctly. It does, however, presume a certain amount of work and concentration in class.

What I would like to know is the meaning of “penalised” in the first sentence above. Your knuckles rapped? A dressing down? Or does it also mean being ignominiously booted out of school? And are teachers constrained when they discipline a child who is an immigrant or a member of a minority or someone with particularly vocal and difficult parents? Because all children should be treated equally. It is during childhood that you learn discipline, self-discipline and how to live in this world with others with self-respect and dignity.

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