Friday, 19 April 2013

The Daventry years (1)

It is a fairly standard rule in education that if at all possible lecturers should avoid assessing the work of a family member. This is particularly important if any marks awarded will count towards the grade awarded in an external qualification. If this problem really is unavoidable then the whole process needs to be very closely monitored and the marks awarded subject to rigorous moderation.

It was exactly this problem that formed the basis of the one and only clear-cut case of educational malpractice I came across in all my years as a lecturer. The member of staff was teaching his brother and it soon became clear that the marks the student was getting in the one module taught by his elder brother were totally at variance to those he was getting in modules taught by other colleagues.

What caused the whole affair to escalate was the absolute refusal of the lecturer to have his work moderated coupled with the discovery that no mark schemes existed for the assessments where his brother had done so well.

This student had transferred to “my” college after the start of the academic year and it was discovered that he had been accepted onto the course on the basis of having passed a lower level qualification elsewhere. The problem was that there was no proof that he held the qualification he claimed to have. For some years it had been standard practice for the administration team to take a photocopy of any certificates documenting a student’s academic history but when this particular student’s folder was checked it was empty.

The student was eventually withdrawn but as far as I know the member of staff who was clearly heavily involved managed to bluff and bluster his way out of the problem – mainly by playing the race card.

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