Inquiry launched into school’s ‘completely unacceptable’ dealings over exams

Hebburn Lakes Primary School
Hebburn Lakes Primary School

An inquiry has been launched at a South Tyneside school after exam maladministration was uncovered.

The irregularities in exam papers at Lakes Primary School in Campbell Park Road, Hebburn, sparked a nine-month investigation by the Department of Education’s Standards and Testing Agency (STA) into Key Stage 2 Standard Assessment Tests (SATS) taken by pupils in June last year.

Maladministration was completely unacceptable

STA spokesman

After the watchdog’s in-depth look into how the exams were administered, it has found there was maladministration.

The STA has not disclosed the nature of the irregularities but a spokesman said any maladministration was “completely unacceptable”.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said the matter was being taken “very seriously” with school’s head of governors Coun Jim Sewell having ordered an independent investigation.

The spokesman added: “We view this matter very seriously. It is vital that parents and carers in South Tyneside can trust the reliability and integrity of the administration of national tests in our schools. In line with the wishes of the chair of governors, an independent investigation into the maladministration is being carried out.”

The STA probe is believed to have centred on what happened to the papers after the exams were completed.

Coun Sewell said one of the issues concerned multiple choice questions, adding: “Two marks were deducted for one pupil in mental maths and two marks for another’s spelling, but neither made a difference to their overall grades.”

As a result of the STA probe, amendments needed to be made to pupils’ mathematics, grammar, punctuation and spelling test results. A number of pupils’ reading test results were also amended, and in some cases annulled.

Wait for results was stressful time for pupils

More than 40 children spent several stressful weeks preparing for their exams at the school last summer.

But, months down the line, pupils and parents were still in the dark over the results, until they were eventually published at the end of the STA probe in April.

Dozens of children who took the SATS have now moved on to senior schools – not knowing how they did in the final stages of their primary education.

Last September headteacher Tony Watson said: “The agency may have seen something it doesn’t like or this could be part of a wider or national process.”

Teachers were interviewed as part of the probe.

An STA spokesman said: “Following an investigation into the administration of 2014 Key Stage 2 tests at Hebburn Lakes Primary School, a decision was made to make amendments and annulments to a number of pupils’ tests.

“Any instances of maladministration of the tests are completely unacceptable.”