Three of Britain’s most famous public schools have been caught up in a scandal after it was alleged that students had been given information about examination questions prior to sitting their tests.
Eton College, Winchester College and Charterhouse, which attract international students from the Middle East, have all been hit with allegations of cheating.
Last week, Eton College, an all-boys public school with a long list of famous alumni including members of the British royal family and 19 British prime ministers, dismissed their head of economics, Mo Tanweer, following claims he had shared confidential information about an exam paper.
On Monday, it was revealed that Winchester College in Hampshire- which has annual boarding fees of over £38,000 (Dh180,000)- had suspended its head of art history Laurence Wolff after allegations he gave hints about what would appear on an exam paper.
The school said that two exams sat by 13 pupils had been nullified and their grades would be judged on prior exams and coursework.
“The college has treated this matter very seriously, and has worked closely with the examination board throughout. It greatly regrets what has happened,” Tim Hands, Winchester’s headmaster, told the Daily Telegraph.
“No boy was to blame, and the board used standard procedures to award final grades. One teacher was suspended and has now retired from the school.”
It was reported that the allegations came to light after a student at another independent school Downe House discovered on social media that students had advanced knowledge of some of the exam paper’s content and reported it to her school.
An investigation was launched after both Winchester College and the exam board were informed by Downe House about the matter.
Charterhouse School in Surrey, with boarding fees similar to Winchester College’s, was also investigated by exam board Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) but the board found no evidence of wrongdoing.
CIE offer an international version of the A-Level, which is recognised by UK universities and many higher education institutions across the world.
A spokesman for Charterhouse school told the newspaper: “Charterhouse staff were made aware of concerns raised by pupils and referred the matter to Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) at the time.
“We have been assured by CIE that our pupils have not been affected. All Charterhouse pupils who sat the CIE Pre-U Economics examinations were awarded their marks for the papers in the normal way.”
Britain’s Department for Education said it had brought the exam regulator Ofqual in to investigate the matter.
"Parents and students must be able to have faith in the exam system. Any suggestion of malpractice is concerning and should be looked into,” a spokesperson said.
"Cambridge International Examinations board are dealing with the incidents and have made the exam regulator Ofqual aware."