First Eton (see last post). Now it’s Winchester and Charterhouse – both in the top half-dozen English Public schools in terms of ‘prestige’ – that have been caught exam cheating: (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/08/27/exclusive-three-britains-leading-independent-schools-caught/); plus, a while ago, one of the government’s prized ‘Academies’ in east London: (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/feb/10/staff-at-outstanding-london-school-suspended-over-alleged-exam-cheating). The tip of an iceberg, or what? But this is what happens when you introduce cut-throat competition into education, in circumstances where funding – from the government – or sales – of places in the posh schools – depend on good positions in exam ‘league tables’.
I had experience of something similar when I was Head of a university Department during the first of the Higher Education TQA (‘Teaching Quality Assessment’) exercises. Our departmental ‘grants’ were supposed to depend on this, and on our place in the resulting ‘league tables’. The cheating on the part some of our rival departments at other universities was obvious, albeit more subtle – we university lecturers were supposed to be clever-clogs, after all. I published a piece about it at the time in the Times Higher Education Supplement (I think: I can’t find the link to it now – if there is one. It was pre-digitalisation and pre-Google. I’ll look it up when I get back to the UK). Colleagues at other universities pinned it on their office doors. I was a hero for a while! – As it happened, my department did alright in the assessment, and without cheating. But that didn’t alter my view of the process as a whole, and of the place of crude ‘competition’ in the subtle business that is education.