EDUCATION MATTERS: The Cheating Exam Teenagers Who 'Phone a Friend'

Article excerpt

Teenagers are using the latest digital technology to "phone a friend" for the answers during school exams, an official report will conclude.

There is a growing fear that pupils are putting their revision notes on to hand-held organisers and MP3 players to cheat in the exam hall, according to the investigation for the Government's watchdog.

One possible way to stop cheating via mobile phones would be to put a Faraday Cage around every exam hall in the country to disrupt the connection, said the report's author, Professor Jean Underwood.

Prof Underwood, from Nottingham Trent University, is conducting the research for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), the Government's testing watchdog.

"There is a multitude of ways to cheat, from writing on your cuffs, which does not use technology, to using PDAs and mobile phones," she said.

"You can cover the whole course on an MP3 player. It doesn't have to play music. This is rising with really high powered calculators which can store a lot more than calculations.

"There is a rising fear that technology is fuelling this problem. My role was to look at to what extent technology was the problem itself.

"It isn't the problem itself because it provides many of the solutions as well." She said there had been a spate of cases involving schoolchildren in the Far East using mobile phones to cheat in exams and similar situations were emerging in the UK. Such cheating from inside the exam room involved the use of mobile phones to get access to the internet but also "friends ringing up to get the answers".

"We are not saying that large swathes are doing it, but there are enough to be worried. …