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Whistleblowing

Guidance in Relation to Suspected Malpractice

This guidance is principally for centre staff who may witness malpractice in examinations and assessments, but may be unsure about what action to take.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA), with amendments in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 gives legal protection to centre staff from being dismissed or penalised by their employers as a result of publicly disclosing (“blowing the whistle on”) certain serious concerns.

It may be that your organisation has a whistleblowing policy. If it does not, you will still be protected under the PIDA. This allows you the opportunity to bring to your Senior Management Team’s attention possible corruption or non-conformance with legal obligations for example, but also when you suspect malpractice is taking place.


Definitions & Examples of Malpractice

An act of malpractice/maladministration may be committed by any individual, such as a trainer, centre staff member, learner or client. Incidents of malpractice are considered to be more serious than acts of maladministration. They may be either deliberate or inadvertent actions. The terms are defined as follows:

  • Malpractice: any activity, neglect, default or other practice that compromises, or could compromise the assessment process, the integrity of a regulated qualification or the validity of a result or certificate.
  • Maladministration: any activity, neglect, default or other practice that results in the centre or learner not complying with the specified requirements for the delivery of the qualifications and as set out in the relevant legislation.

Examples of malpractice and maladministration that might be carried out by a learner may include (not exhaustive):

  • Obtaining or distributing confidential examination materials without authorisation
  • Referring to prohibited items or materials during exams, such as reference books, notes, mobile phones or other electronic devices
  • Collusion or copying during an exam or plagiarising work from other sources
  • Impersonation – undertaking an exam on the behalf of someone else
  • Disruptive behaviour or use of offensive language during an exam
  • Making fraudulent claims for additional time or assistance for an examination (fraudulent claims for reasonable adjustment or special consideration)
  • Failing to follow the examination instructions and/or requirements of the invigilator or trainer.

Examples of malpractice and maladministration that might be carried out by a trainer invigilator or centre employee may include (not exhaustive):

  • Failing to securely store examination materials
  • Delivery of shortened courses or poor-quality training
  • Guiding learners in their answers to examination questions
  • Failing to arrange sufficient resources to administer and invigilate the examination
  • Failing to identify, intervene, stop or report any form of malpractice or maladministration
  • Failing to observe the correct examination times
  • Tampering or making any amendments to learner answer papers

What should you do if you see Malpractice

If you are a centre employee and believe that your centre management team will take-action to remedy the situation then informing your line manager may be the best solution.

However, if you believe your Senior Management Team is involved in the malpractice and mal administration, or you believe that you may be victimised by raising the issues with them, then you may wish to talk to IBSL.

You will still be protected by the PIDA if:

  • You reasonably believe that by making the disclosure to your employer you will be victimised; or
  • You reasonably believe that by making the disclosure to your employer there is likely to be a cover-up; or
  • The matter has previously been raised internally or with the sector regulator.

If you are a learner and witness what you believe to be malpractice or maladministration amongst your fellow students or the centre staff delivering the qualification, the first option is to report the issue to a different member of staff to take-action to remedy the situation.

If this is not possible (perhaps it is a small private training agency that delivers the qualification) then you should contact IBSL direct and report what has happened.

When reporting malpractice or maladministration, you should include:

  • The relevant course details (qualification, training date, training venue)
  • The name of the trainer and invigilator
  • The name of any learners(s) affected by the malpractice/maladministration
  • A detailed description of the malpractice/maladministration
  • Any supporting evidence

Who do you Talk to

Each awarding body has staff who deal with malpractice. You can talk to them in confidence and explain your concerns.

The awarding body will:

  • Respect your rights under the PIDA;
  • Understand the difficult position you are in;
  • Have experience of similar situations; and
  • Explain the importance of supporting evidence and the sort of evidence that might help in your particular case.
  • The awarding body will make every effort to protect your identity, if that is what you wish, unless legally obliged to release it. This may be in the case of a police investigation, for example. Please be aware that it will not be possible for the awarding body to provide you with a report on the findings or outcome of any investigation that may ensue.

Investigation

IBSL will take all reasonable steps to fully investigate allegations of malpractice/maladministration reported to them by implementing procedures outlined in the Awarding Organisation’s relevant Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.