Malpractice & Maladministration Guidance for Centres
As part of Ofqual’s general conditions of recognition and in particular condition A8 – (malpractice and
maladministration), centres that undertake any part of a qualification which TRAINED Academy makes
available, must put in place arrangements to prevent and investigate actual or suspected occurrences of
malpractice and maladministration.
This document has been provided by TRAINED Academy to help illustrate a possible approach to preventing
and investigating malpractice and maladministration. It is not intended to be prescriptive nor indicate that this
is the only approach acceptable to TRAINED Academy in relation to preventing and investigating malpractice
and maladministration; nor is it intended to imply that using it will guarantee compliance with TRAINED
Academy requirements as it is each centre’s responsibility to ensure they have in place appropriate internal
controls and audit trails. Whilst this document may suggest a way of undertaking certain activities, its use alone
will not automatically confirm compliance.
Centres may decide to use this document and its contents to assist them with the delivery of Active IQ qualifications and/or tailor it to reflect internal procedures and operational needs.
It is important that your staff involved in the management, assessment and quality assurance of our qualifications, and your learners, are fully aware of your arrangements to prevent and investigate instances of malpractice and maladministration.
We will review the guidance annually as part of our annual self-evaluation arrangements and revise it as necessary in response to customer and learner feedback, changes in our practices, actions from the regulatory authorities or external agencies, changes in legislation, or trends identified from previous allegations.
In addition, this guidance may be updated in light of operational feedback to ensure our arrangements for dealing with suspected cases of malpractice and maladministration remain effective.
If you would like to feedback any views please contact us via the details provided at the end of this guidance.
Definition of Malpractice
Malpractice is essentially any activity or practice which deliberately contravenes regulations and compromises the integrity of the internal or external assessment process and/or the validity of certificates. It covers any deliberate actions, neglect, default or other practice that compromises, or could compromise:
The assessment process.
The integrity of a regulated qualification.
The validity of a result or certificate.
The reputation and credibility of Active IQ, or the qualification or the wider qualifications community.
Malpractice may include a range of issues from the failure to maintain appropriate records or systems, to the deliberate falsification of records in order to claim certificates.
For the purpose of this policy this term also covers misconduct and form of unnecessary discrimination or bias towards certain groups of learners.
Examples of malpractice
The categories listed below are examples of centre and learner malpractice. Please note that these examples are not exhaustive and are only intended as guidance on our definition of malpractice:
Denial of access to premises, records, information, learners and staff to any authorised TRAINED Academy representative and/or the regulatory authorities.
Failure to carry out internal assessment, internal moderation or internal verification in accordance with our requirements.
Deliberate failure to adhere to our learner registration and certification procedures.
Deliberate failure to continually adhere to our centre recognition and/or qualification approval requirements or actions assigned to your centre.
Deliberate failure to maintain appropriate auditable records, e.g. certification claims and/or forgery of evidence fraudulent claim(s) for certificates
The unauthorised use of inappropriate materials / equipment in assessment settings (e.g. mobile phones).
Intentional withholding of information from us which is critical to maintaining the rigour of quality assurance and standards of qualifications.
Deliberate misuse of our logo and trademarks or misrepresentation of a centre’s relationship with TRAINED Academy and/or its recognition and approval status with TRAINED Academy.
Collusion or permitting collusion in exams/assessments.
Learners still working towards qualification after certification claims have been made.
Persistent instances of maladministration within the centre.
Deliberate contravention by a centre and/or its learners of the assessment arrangements we specify for our qualifications.
A loss, theft of, or a breach of confidentiality in, any assessment materials.
Plagiarism by learners/staff.
Copying from another learner (including using ICT to do so).
Impersonation - assuming the identity of another learner or having someone assume your identity during an assessment.
Unauthorised amendment, copying or distributing of exam/assessment papers/materials.
Inappropriate assistance to learners by centre staff (e.g. unfairly helping them to pass a unit or qualification).
Deliberate submission of false information to gain a qualification or unit.
Deliberate failure to adhere to, or to circumnavigate, the requirements of our Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations Policy.
Definition of Maladministration
Maladministration is essentially any activity or practice which results in non-compliance with administrative regulations and requirements and includes the application of persistent mistakes or poor administration within a centre (e.g. inappropriate learner records).
Examples of Maladministration
The categories listed below are examples of centre and learner maladministration. Please note that these examples are not exhaustive and are only intended as guidance on our definition of malpractice:
Persistent failure to adhere to our learner registration and certification procedures.
Persistent failure to adhere to our centre recognition and/or qualification requirements and/or associated actions assigned to the centre.
Late learner registrations (both infrequent and persistent).
Unreasonable delays in responding to requests and/or communications from Active IQ.
Inaccurate claim for certificates.
Failure to maintain appropriate auditable records, e.g. certification claims and/or forgery of evidence.
Withholding of information, by deliberate act or omission from us which is required to assure Active IQ of the centre’s ability to deliver qualifications appropriately.
Misuse of our logo and trademarks or misrepresentation of a centre’s relationship with Active IQ and/or its recognition and approval status with Active IQ.
Failure to adhere to, or to circumnavigate, the requirements of our Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations Policy.
Process for making an allegation of malpractice or maladministration
Anybody who identifies, or is made aware of, suspected or actual cases of malpractice or maladministration at any time must immediately notify Active IQ. In doing so they should put them in writing/email and enclose appropriate supporting evidence.
All allegations must include (where possible):
Centre’s name, Address and Number.
Learner’s name and Active IQ registration number (where appropriate).
Centre/Active IQ personnel’s details (name, job role) if they are involved in the case.
Details of the Active IQ course/qualification affected or nature of the service affected .
Nature of the suspected or actual malpractice and associated dates.
Details and outcome of any initial investigation carried out by the centre or anybody else involved in the case, including any mitigating circumstances.
If a centre has conducted an initial investigation prior to formally notifying us, the centre should ensure that staff involved in the initial investigation are competent and have no personal interest in the outcome of the investigation. However, it is important to note that in all instances the centre must immediately notify us if they suspect malpractice or maladministration has occurred as we have a responsibility to the regulatory authorities to ensure that all investigations are carried out rigorously and effectively.
In all cases of suspected malpractice and maladministration reported to us we will protect the identity of the ‘informant’ in accordance with our duty of confidentiality and/or any other legal duty.
Centre’s responsibility for preventing malpractice and/or maladministration
Centres have a responsibility to prevent instances of malpractice and maladministration, to establish and maintain, and at all times comply with, up-to-date written procedures for the investigation of suspected or alleged malpractice or maladministration.
Whilst it is nearly impossible to completely remove the risk of maladministration or malpractice occurring within centres, we believe the following will go some way to strengthening a centre’s internal arrangements in this area. Centres should ensure:
All staff are aware of our policies and procedures and receive appropriate training/briefings on these.
Staff have clear roles and responsibilities.
There is a documented internal quality assurance procedure/methodology that is clearly in place and is subject to regular internal reviews.
There are documented internal standardisation arrangements in place and evidence that these take place at regular intervals throughout the year.
Learners are informed of their roles and responsibilities in terms of not doing anything that may be deemed a malpractice and jeopardise their potential achievements.
All assessment and internal verification activities are accurately recorded and carried out in accordance with the centre’s internal quality assurance arrangements and in line with the centre’s expectations as outlined in its qualification guides etc.
All registration and certification records are subject to appropriate internal review before submission.
Ofqual has published ‘a guide for teachers on authenticity’ to assist centres in preventing plagiarism and cheating. Active IQ has included extracts that may be relevant for some of our qualifications and assessment arrangements. These extracts (and a link to the full, published guide) can be found within Appendix 1 at the end of this document.
Active IQ guidance for centres on conducting a malpractice / maladministration investigation
To assist centres with embedding effective arrangements to investigate instances of malpractice/maladministration, the following process is recommended. It is intended that the stages involve generic key activities however, not all these would be implemented in every case.
Stage 1: Briefing and record-keeping
Anyone involved in the conduct of an investigation should have a clear brief and understanding of their role.
All investigators must maintain an auditable record of every action during an investigation to demonstrate that they have acted appropriately.
The person assigning the investigating officer(s) will stipulate and/or provide secure storage arrangements for all material evidence associated with an investigation in case of any subsequent legal challenge. There may be occasions when a joint investigation occurs with Active IQ, with the roles of the two teams being clarified by Active IQ. It is the centre’s responsibility to ensure their investigators are fully aware of the agreed roles and processes to follow in the investigation.
Stage 2: Establishing the facts
Investigators should review the evidence and associated documentation, including relevant Active IQ guidance on the delivery of the qualifications and related quality assurance arrangements.
Issues to be determined are:
What occurred (nature of malpractice/substance of the allegations).
Why the incident occurred.
Who was involved in the incident.
When it occurred.
Where it occurred – there may be more than one location.
What action, if any, the centre has taken.
Stage 3: Interviews
Interviews should be thoroughly prepared, conducted appropriately and underpinned by clear records of the interviews. For example:
Interviews should include prepared questions, and both these and responses to questions should be recorded
Interviewers may find it helpful to use the ‘PEACE’ technique:
Plan and prepare.
Engage and explain.
Face-to-face interviews should normally be conducted by two people with one person primarily acting as the interviewer and the other as note-taker.
Those being interviewed should be informed that they may have another individual of their choosing present and that they do not have to answer questions. These arrangements aim to protect the rights of all individuals.
Stage 4: Other contacts
In some cases, learners or employers may need to be contacted for facts and information. This may be done via face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, by post or email.
Whichever method is used, the investigator will have a set of prepared questions. The responses will be recorded in writing as part of confirmation of the evidence. Investigators should log the number of attempts made to contact an individual.
Stage 5: Documentary evidence
Wherever possible documentary evidence should be authenticated by reference to the author; this may include asking learners and others to confirm handwriting, dates and signatures.
Receipts should be given for any documentation removed from a centre.
Independent expert opinion may be obtained from subject specialists about a learner’s evidence and/or from a specialist organisation such as a forensic examiner, who may comment on the validity of documents.
Stage 6: Conclusions
Once the investigators have gathered and reviewed all relevant evidence, a decision is made on the outcome.
Stage 7: Reporting
A draft report is prepared and factual accuracy agreement obtained. The final report is submitted to the Internal Verifier for review and sign-off and shared with Active IQ and relevant parties within your organisation.
Stage 8: Actions
Any resultant action plan is implemented and monitored appropriately and Active IQ notified.
If you would like to refer to Active IQ’s policy for Malpractice and Maladministration, please visit www.activeiq.co.uk/centres/guidance-for-centres.
If you have any queries about the contents of the guidance, please contact our support team on:
APPENDIX 1 – Ofqual Guidance
Ofqual has published ‘a guide for teachers on authenticity’ to assist centres in preventing plagiarism and cheating. The document can be located from Ofqual;
Active IQ has included extracts of the document that may be relevant for some of our qualifications and assessment arrangements.
*Please note although the terminology is school/exam based, the guidance equally applies to competence (vocational) based qualifications, where students would be referred to as ‘learners’ and teachers referred to as ‘assessors’.
“Because teachers often ask students to work collaboratively this area can be confusing, and teachers should give students guidance about what is or is not acceptable in such circumstances”. For example:
students’ coursework should be in their own words unless they are quoting from a referenced source. If asked to explain what they mean by a certain phrase or paragraph they should be able to do so
students should always acknowledge, by referencing, any words, ideas or concepts that were originally produced by another person and that they have incorporated into their work
students should not let other people see their coursework. It is often considered good practice to share information. However in coursework this is not acceptable. It can lead to students being accused of collusion, which in turn could mean that students lose marks or have to undertake an additional piece of coursework. Even lending coursework to a friend, not knowing it may be copied, may also attract a penalty
explain that there is nothing wrong with quoting from/paraphrasing other work but that they must credit such citation in an appropriate manner.
The following are known examples of cheating:
Buying a paper from an internet site (also known as an essay bank or a paper mill).
Getting someone else to do the work for them.
Giving false information about a source used in coursework.
However students may not be aware that the following activities are also unacceptable and could be penalised:
Copying sections of work from a friend.
Having a friend/family member dictate something to them (often this will occur because students know what they want to say but can’t find the words themselves).
Copying and pasting from the internet without citing the source; copying directly from a textbook without citing the source.
Omitting quotation marks from quotations.
Paraphrasing without including reference to the source of the paraphrase.
Suggested ways to reduce plagiarism include:
Asking students to provide an annotated bibliography. (Writing a sentence or two on how useful the source was can act as an aide memoire for students to cite where the information came from).
Make sure that the students know exactly what is required in their coursework. Teachers are able to provide general guidance on the drafting and development of coursework to students; however ‘detailed advice’ on possible improvements is not permitted.
Where teachers have the ability to set a coursework task they change the topics/questions from year to year. This means that there is less likelihood that students will be able to ‘borrow’ an essay from someone who has already written on the same subject in previous years.
Students submit a signed declaration with any piece of assessed work proving that this work is their own.
Internal verification where a teacher is also expected to verify that the student has produced authentic work….. If a teacher is not confident that a piece of work is authentic they cannot sign the declaration of authenticity and the student will be awarded zero for the assessment.
While teachers may sign the authenticity statement in good faith, awarding organisations may take action against an assessment centre if there is consistent evidence that work carried out by students is unauthentic. Therefore it is essential that the teacher develops confidence in the authenticity of the student’s work prior to hand-in of the finished piece as it may be much more difficult to achieve this at the point of hand-in.
Using the advanced search in a search engine and enclosing suspected phrases in quotation marks will ensure that the search engine returns pages with this particular sequence of words. Try to identify short phrases from the student’s work that you suspect may not be their own.
Areas to watch out for which may signal cheating:
Where the writing style of a single piece of work varies this may indicate a student is using text from several different authors, each with their own unique writing style, without acknowledgement.
Where a document exhibits a variety of different physical characteristics (such as changes in font styles and sizes, indentation and line spacing) this may also indicate that the work is not the student’s own and has been carelessly cut and pasted from a range of different sources without attribution.
It may look as if an introductory and/or concluding paragraph directly answers the question while in the main the body of the essay is made up of vague and unrelated waffle. If you are in any doubt, as in any case, ask the student about what they have written. If the work is their own then they should find it easy to justify their arguments, use of sources and their approach.