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1. Introduction

This document sets out our approach for handling incidents of Malpractice and Maladministration, on the part of candidates, centre staff and any others involved in delivering Kaplan Professional Awards qualifications and/or its assessments.

KPA is regulated by Ofqual, and this policy is aligned to Condition A8 from Ofqual’s Handbook on General Conditions of Recognition.

1.1 Purpose and scope

The document:

  • defines malpractice and maladministration in the context of examinations and assessments (see Appendix A)
  • sets out the rights and responsibilities for KPA, centre staff and candidates in relation to such matters;
  • describes the procedures to be followed in cases where there is reason to suspect that the regulations may have been broken
  • details the procedures for investigating and determining allegations of malpractice which in their fairness, impartiality and objectivity meet or exceed the requirements of current law in relation to such matters.

1.2 Confidentiality

Information provided by candidates, centres and all other stakeholders under this policy will be treated as confidential, and only be shared with the persons necessary when considering the claim/request.

1.3 Review of this policy

This policy will be monitored by Kaplan Professional Awards (KPA) and any necessary amendments will be made and implemented at the earliest opportunity. As a minimum, KPA will review this and all associated policies on an annual basis as part of its ongoing quality assurance procedures.

2. Instances of malpractice and maladministration

Instances of malpractice arise for a variety of reasons:

  • intentional - giving an unfair advantage in an examination or assessment
  • unintentional - carelessness, forgetfulness or lack of awareness of the regulations
  • force of circumstances beyond control - e.g. a fire alarm disrupts supervision of candidates.

The individuals involved in malpractice are also varied. They may be:

  • candidates
  • teachers, lecturers, tutors, trainers, assessors or others responsible for the conduct, the administration or the quality assurance of examinations and assessments including examination officers, invigilators and those facilitating Access Arrangements (e.g. Readers, Scribes and Practical Assistants)
  • assessment personnel such as examiners, assessors, moderators or internal and external verifiers
  • other third parties, e.g. scribe, reader

Malpractice includes disruptive behaviour, maladministration and non-compliance with Ofqual regulations, and includes activities such as failure to adhere to the regulations including conduct of controlled assessments, handling of examination question papers, candidate scripts, mark sheets, results, certificate claim forms.

Types of malpractice:

  • breach of security
  • deception
  • improper assistance to candidates
  • failure to cooperate with an investigation
  • maladministration
  • cheating or collusion in an exam

This list is not exhaustive.

Maladministration is an activity or practice which results in non-compliance with regulations, but it is normally the result of a genuine mistake rather than any deliberate plan to gain an unfair advantage. Where a Centre repeatedly makes the same or similar mistakes and makes no effort to change their behaviour then this would eventually constitute malpractice.

Examples of maladministration include:

  • Inaccurately completed paperwork
  • Claiming certification for incorrect units

Irrespective of the underlying cause or the people involved, all allegations of malpractice and maladministration (hereafter referred to simply as malpractice) in relation to examinations and assessments need to be investigated. This is to protect the integrity of the qualification and to be fair to the centre and all candidates.

KPA is obliged to notify Ofqual where it suspects that a malpractice incident has, or is likely to, occur which could have an Adverse Effect (see Appendix A).

To report a malpractice incident, please complete the ‘KPA Suspected Malpractice/Maladministration Form’ available from our website or by emailing the KPA team on

3. Responsibilities

3.1 The Awarding Organisation (AO)

Ofqual, the regulators, state in their General Conditions of Recognition that AO’s must:

  • establish, maintain, and comply with, up to date written procedures for the investigation of suspected or alleged malpractice or maladministration
  • ensure investigations are carried out rigorously, effectively, and by persons of appropriate competence who have no personal interest in its outcome.

Kaplan Professional Awards will:

  • Issue at the test centre
  • oversee all investigations into suspected or alleged malpractice
  • determine whether to withhold results until the conclusion of the investigation, or permanently, where the investigation outcome warrants it
  • apply appropriate sanctions in cases of proven malpractice.
  • report to Ofqual and other AO’s (in accordance with section A8 of General Conditions of Recognition)
  • Authorise the head of centre to gather evidence.
    • where the allegation is against the head of the centre, KPA will authorise another person to gather evidence and report back within the specified timeline.

Kaplan Professional Awards reserves the right to gather evidence directly for an investigation where it feels it is the most appropriate course of action.

3.2 The head of centre (or named contact with KPA), will:

  • be responsible for their centre, centre staff and candidates entered for KPA examinations through their centre
  • notify KPA immediately of all alleged, suspected or actual incidents of malpractice
  • report malpractice using the form provided on our website
  • ensure the centre and its staff are compliant with KPA’s instructions regarding an investigation
  • delegate the gathering of evidence to a senior member of centre staff who is independent to the department or candidate with no conflict of interest that might compromise the investigation
  • respond in a timely and open manner to all requests for an investigation into an allegation of malpractice
  • ensure all staff cooperate with the enquiry, whether the centre is directly involved or not
  • ensure staff members and candidates are informed of their individual responsibilities and rights as set out in these guidelines
  • forward KPA correspondence and evidence to centre staff and/or provide staff contact information to enable KPA to do so
  • pass on to the individuals concerned any warnings or notifications of penalties, and ensure compliance with any requests made by KPA as a result of a malpractice case.

Heads of centre are reminded that a failure to comply with the requirements set in this section may itself constitute malpractice.

4. Procedures for dealing with allegations of malpractice

4.1 Handling malpractice complaints and allegations

The handling of a malpractice complaint and allegation involves the following phases:

  1. The allegation
  2. Kaplan Professional Awards response
  3. The investigation
  4. The report
  5. The decision
  6. The sanctions and penalties

4.A The Allegation

  1. Suspected malpractice may be identified through the following channels:
    • Suspicious behaviour during an exam or assessment activity, reported by an invigilator, assessor or fellow candidate
    • Observation during the marking or moderation by an internal and/or external verifier, of an exam or assessment activity
    • All suspected malpractice allegations must be reported to KPA on the same day as the incident has occurred by either completing an incident form or a suspected malpractice form.
  2. Malpractice in a controlled assessment discovered against a candidate found to be using false/fake ID to confirm their identity as a declaration of authentication, must be reported to KPA to decide whether to mark or withhold the script, and must be dealt with in accordance with the centre’s internal procedures.
    Where there is potential breach of KPA assessment material this should be reported to KPA immediately.
  3. KPA will not disclose the identity of individuals reporting cases of suspected malpractice, unless legally obliged to do so, by redacting their details. Employees/workers making allegations of suspected malpractice within centres may be protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, if:
    • the disclosure amounts to a “protected disclosure” (as set out in the relevant legislation);
    • the employee/worker is raising a genuine concern in relation to malpractice; and
    • the disclosure is made in compliance with the guidelines set out in the legislation and/or the centre’s own Whistleblowing Policy.
    • If the disclosure is made to their employer or prescribed body like Ofqual.
  4. Where KPA are aware that reporting suspected malpractice by a member of staff or a candidate can create a difficult environment, KPA will try to protect the identity of an informant if this is asked for at the time the information is given. If the information is provided over the telephone, the informant will be asked to confirm the allegation in writing.

4.B KPA’s response to an allegation of malpractice

  1. In the case of notifications of suspected malpractice received, KPA will consider the information provided and decide to:

    Notification from examiners, moderators, monitors, external verifiers, the regulators or members of the public (including informants)
    • take no further action
    • ask the head of centre, or another suitably qualified individual, to gather evidence in support
    • investigate the matter directly.

    Notification of suspected malpractice, submitted by a head of centre
    • take no further action
    • make a decision on the case in accordance with the procedures (where the evidence permits), if the notification takes the form of a report
    • ask the head of centre to gather further evidence
    • investigate the matter further itself.
  2. KPA will notify Ofqual of suspected malpractice that meets the notification requirements set out in B3 of the Conditions of Recognition and inform other awarding bodies accordingly.
  3. Regardless of whether the allegation of malpractice is proven or not, in order to ensure the integrity of, and public confidence in, future examinations/assessments, KPA may undertake additional inspections and/or monitoring, and/or require additional actions.
  4. KPA reserves the right to notify the police or other law enforcement/ investigating bodies should the allegation disclose the potential commission of a crime.

4.C The investigation

Activities carried out by the head of centre/appointed information gatherer

  1. The head of centre / appointed information gatherer will gather evidence into allegations of malpractice, in the format specified by KPA.
  2. The head of centre / appointed information gatherer must contact KPA with any concerns regarding conflict of interest.
  3. Interviews with candidates or members of staff must be conducted in accordance with the centre’s own policy for conducting enquiries. A full note of the interview should be made and kept. The interviewee should be asked to confirm the accuracy of the note.

    Reference should also be made to section 4c.vii about the rights of the accused individuals.

  4. Legal representation is not necessary, however, if any party wishes to be accompanied then all other parties must be informed beforehand to give them the opportunity to be similarly supported.
    • The person accompanying the interviewee cannot take an active part in the interview or answer questions on the interviewee’s behalf.
    • KPA will not be liable for any professional fees incurred.
    • The head of centre / appointed information gatherer is required to make available an appropriate venue for such interviews. Interviews can be conducted virtually.
    • Individuals involved may be requested to provide a written statement.
  5. Activities carried out directly by Kaplan Professional Awards

  6. KPA reserves the right to conduct any investigation directly where it feels that it is the most appropriate course of action.
    • The decision as to how an investigation is conducted rests with KPA.
    • KPA will not withhold information about material obtained or created during the course of an investigation that complies with data protection law.
    • Evidence not shared during the investigation, will not be provided to the Governance Board or considered as an allegation of malpractice.
  7. Occasionally it may be necessary for KPA to interview a candidate during an investigation.
    • The interview can be face to face, telephone or virtual.
    • The head of centre will be required to make available an appropriate venue.
    • Interviewee can be accompanied by their representative, but must inform KPA beforehand. Representatives cannot take an active part in the interview.
    • A full note of the interview will be made and the interviewee asked to confirm its accuracy, a written statement can also be requested.
  8. Rights of the accused individuals:
    If, in the view of the investigator, there is sufficient evidence to implicate an individual in malpractice, that individual (a candidate or a member of staff) must:
    • be informed in writing, of the allegation made against them
    • be provided with a copy of this document so that they are aware of the procedure
    • know what evidence there is to support the allegation
    • know the possible consequences should malpractice be proven (see sanctions in 4.F)
    • have the opportunity to consider their response to the allegations
    • have an opportunity to submit a written statement
    • be informed that they will have the opportunity to read the submission and make an additional statement in response, should the case be put to the Governance Board
    • have an opportunity to seek advice (as necessary) and provide a supplementary statement (if required)
    • be informed of the appeals procedure, (see section 6) against decisions made
    • be informed that information relating to a serious case of malpractice may be shared with other awarding bodies, the regulators and other appropriate authorities.
  9. Responsibility for informing the accused individual rests with the head of centre.
  10. Full details of KPA’s appeals procedures will be sent to the head of centre and/or the accused involved in an appeal. (See section 6).

4.D The Report

  1. After gathering evidence relating to a malpractice investigation, the head of centre must submit a full written report of the case to KPA.
  2. The report should be accompanied by the following documentation, as appropriate:
    • statement of the facts, clear and detailed account of the circumstances and an objective assessment of the evidence gathered, any mitigating evidence
    • evidence relevant to the allegation, such as written statement(s) from the teacher(s), invigilator(s), assessor, internal verifier(s) or other staff who are involved;
    • written statement(s) from the candidate(s) in their own words
    • centre’s procedures for advising candidates and centre staff of KPA regulations
    • seating plan of candidates position in the examination room relevant to the investigation
    • unauthorised material found in the examination room or material relevant to the investigation
    • teaching resources/material relevant to the investigation;
    • actions to be taken by the centre to mitigate the impact of any malpractice or actions to be taken to avoid a recurrence.

4.E The Decision (KPA Governance Board)

  1. KPA will submit the case to their Governance Board in order to determine the outcome of cases of alleged malpractice.
  2. The following applies to the activities of the Governance Board:
    • maintain confidentiality
    • have no interest in the outcome of the case
    • state immediately if there are any conflicts of interest such as having personal knowledge or insight, which could lead to an inference that the Board had been biassed.
    • accused individuals, heads of centre and their representatives are not entitled to be present at meetings. The key principle underpinning the composition of the Governance Board is that it is independent of those who have conducted the investigation.
  3. KPA staff directly involved in the case will play no role in the decision- making process
  4. Evidence reviewed will be directly relevant to the case under consideration and made available to the person against whom the allegation has been made. Where material has been subject to redaction the material that the Governance Board receives will also be redacted.
  5. Making the decision - Overview

  6. The Governance Board will first establish that correct procedures have been followed and that all individuals involved were given the opportunity to make a written statement. Where the individual has declined this opportunity, the case will proceed on the basis of all other information received.
  7. If satisfied, they will then seek to determine:
    • whether malpractice (as defined in this document) has occurred;
    • where the culpability lies for the malpractice.
  8. If satisfied that there is sufficient evidence that malpractice has occurred, they then determine:
    • the appropriate measures to protect the integrity of the examination or assessment and to prevent future breaches;
    • the nature of any sanction or penalty to be applied.
  9. Making the decision

  10. Each case of suspected malpractice will be considered and judged on an individual basis in the light of all information available. Where there is an established, clearly evidenced, repeated pattern of malpractice this may be taken into consideration when determining whether a more severe sanction should be applied. The Governance Board will seek to make decisions unanimously, but if necessary may decide by a majority.
  11. The Governance Board will consider:
    • whether or not there has been malpractice
    • if malpractice is established, whether a sanction should be applied.
  12. When making a decision the Governance Board will:
    • identify the regulation or specification requirement that has allegedly been broken;
    • establish the facts of the case based on the evidence presented to them
    • decide whether the facts as so established actually breach the regulations or specification requirements. If malpractice has occurred, they will establish who is responsible for this and consider any points in mitigation
    • determine an appropriate level of sanction or penalty, considering the least severe penalty first.
  13. The Governance Board must be satisfied from the evidence that the alleged malpractice occurred (i.e. that it is more likely than not).
  14. Where a case is deferred to gather further information, the deferral and the nature of the request will be shared with the investigation team and individual(s) impacted.
  15. Where the evidence is not contested or in doubt, a sanction or sanctions may be applied and notified to an individual or centre following consideration of the case by KPA.

    Sanctions and penalties applied under this procedure are subject to appeal, as are all other sanctions and penalties resulting from cases of malpractice.

4.F Sanctions and penalties

  1. KPA will impose sanctions and penalties on individuals and on centres responsible for malpractice in order to:
    1. minimise the risk to the integrity of our examinations and assessments
    2. maintain public confidence in the delivery and awarding of qualifications
    3. deter others from doing likewise
  2. KPA will impose sanctions and penalties on individuals and/or departments or whole centres, found guilty of malpractice.
    Where a sanction is applied against a centre, KPA will make special arrangements to safeguard the interests of candidates and cohorts who might otherwise be adversely affected. Results may also not be issued or may be revoked in cases where malpractice has occurred but it was not established clearly who was to blame or in order to protect the integrity of the qualification for the majority.
  3. Where it is not reasonable or possible to determine responsibility for malpractice, and where it is clear that the integrity of the examination or assessment has been impaired in respect of an individual or individuals, KPA may decide not to accept the work submitted or undertaken for assessment, or may decide it would be unsafe to make awards or permit awards to be retained. In these cases the candidate(s) may re-take, where available, the examination/assessment at the next opportunity or, where the qualification permits, provide additional proof of competence.
  4. KPA will set the level of sanction or penalty (see ix; xiii). Sanctions and penalties will be based only on the evidence available, and will be justifiable and reasonable in their scale and consistency of approach.
  5. KPA reserves the right to apply sanctions and penalties flexibly, outside of the defined ranges, if particular mitigating or aggravating circumstances are found to exist.
  6. Heads of centre must inform those individuals found guilty of malpractice that information may be passed onto other awarding bodies and/or other appropriate authorities. This information will typically include the names, offences and sanctions applied to those found guilty of breaching the published regulations.
  7. Sanctions and penalties for centre staff malpractice - individuals

  8. KPA’s primary role is to consider whether the integrity of its examinations and assessments has potentially been compromised. KPA will not be involved in any matter affecting the member of staff’s or contractors contractual relationship with their employer or engager. Sanctions and penalties may be applied individually or in combination
  9. In determining the appropriate sanction or penalty, KPA will consider factors including:
    • potential risk to the integrity of the examination or assessment
    • potential adverse impact on candidates
    • number of candidates and/or centres affected
    • potential risk to those relying on the qualification.
  10. Where a member of staff or contractor has been found guilty of malpractice, KPA may impose one or more of the following sanctions or penalties:
    1. Written warning with threat of further sanctions if malpractice is reoccurring.
    2. Training as a condition of future involvement in its examinations and/or assessments.
    3. Special conditions imposed on the future involvement in its examinations and/or assessments by the member of staff.
    4. Suspension of staff from all involvement in the delivery or administration of its examinations and assessments for a set period of time.
  11. The head of centre will be notified of the sanctions, who must ensure that it is carried out
    • If the staff member moves to another centre whilst subject to a sanction, the head of centre must notify KPA of the move. KPA reserves the right to inform the head of centre the staff member has moved to, regarding the sanction.
    • If a centre changes the awarding body for a qualification, and a member of staff involved in the delivery or assessment of the qualification is subject to a sanction, the head of centre must notify the new awarding body.
  12. KPA may ask for monitoring activity to be undertaken, or a plan devised to provide assurance that sanctions against centre staff are being appropriately applied.
  13. Sanctions for centre staff malpractice – centres

  14. KPA will determine the application of a sanction or penalty according to the evidence presented, the nature and circumstances of the malpractice, and the type of qualification involved.
  15. Where a member of staff or contractor has been found guilty of malpractice, KPA may impose one or more of the following sanctions or penalties:
    1. Written warning to the head of centre advising of the breach and warning of further action should there be a recurrence of this breach, or subsequent breaches at the centre.
    2. Review and Report (Action Plans) The head of centre will be required to review the centre’s procedures for the conduct or administration of a particular or all examination/assessment and report back to KPA with an action improvement plan to be implemented. Alternatively, an action plan will be agreed between KPA and the centre, and will need to be implemented as a condition of continuing to accept entries or registrations from the centre.
    3. Approval of specific assessment tasks where KPA approve specific assessment tasks in situations where these are normally left to the discretion of the centre.
    4. Additional monitoring or inspection KPA reserves the right to increase the normal level of monitoring that takes place, at the centre’s expense.
    5. Restrictions on examination and assessment materials CBE available via KPA’s test platform at specified test centres only where an awarding body officer is in attendance to oversee security of assessment.
    6. Independent invigilators KPA appoint independent invigilators at the centre’s expense.
    7. Suspension of candidate registrations or entries
    8. Suspension of certification
    9. Withdrawal of approval for a specific qualification(s)
    10. Withdrawal of centre recognition
  16. Any expense incurred in complying with the penalties and/or special conditions must be borne by the centre.
  17. If the head of centre leaves whilst the centre is subject to any sanctions or special measures, KPA will review the continuation of these measures with the new head of centre.
  18. Sanctions and penalties applied against candidates

  19. KPA will determine the application of a sanction or penalty according to the evidence presented, the nature and circumstances of the malpractice, and the type of qualification involved.
  20. KPA may, at their discretion, impose the following sanctions against candidates:
    1. Warning that if a malpractice is committed within a set period of time, further specified sanctions will be applied.
    2. Loss of all marks for a discrete section or component
    3. Loss of all marks for an qualification/unit
    4. Disqualification from a qualification/unit(s)
    5. Disqualification from a whole qualification
    6. Disqualification from all qualifications taken as part of a series
    7. Candidate barred from one or all examinations.
  21. Unless a penalty is accompanied by a bar on future entry, all candidates penalised by loss of marks or disqualification, may retake the component(s), unit(s) or qualification(s).
  22. Heads of centre may wish to take further action themselves in cases of candidate malpractice.

4.2 Communications

KPA will communicate with the head of centre or the individual nominated to conduct the investigation into the allegations of malpractice.

All decisions taken by KPA in cases of malpractice, will be communicated to the head of centre or where the head of centre or management is under investigation then all communication will be made to the Chair of Governors, Academy Trust Officials or other appropriate governance authorities, as deemed appropriate.

KPA may communicate directly with members of centre staff if the circumstances warrant this, e.g. the staff member is no longer employed or engaged by the centre.

Direct communication with a candidate or their representative will be made when either the candidate is a private candidate, or where the circumstances of the case warrant it, e.g. contradicting evidence between the candidate and centre. In such cases KPA will advise the head of centre that it proposes to deal directly with the candidate. A head of centre once advised by KPA should not communicate further with the candidate.

Where requested, heads of centre must facilitate communications between KPA and the individual concerned.

KPA reserves the right to share information relevant to malpractice investigations with third parties, for example Ofqual.

Individuals interviewed or making a statement should be made aware that KPA reserves the right to share their statements, records or transcripts with others involved in the case and/or other appropriate third parties. This information may be shared at any stage during or after the investigation.

5. Communicating Decisions

  1. All decisions will be communicated in writing to the head of centre as soon as possible. It is the responsibility of the head of centre to communicate the decision to the individuals concerned and to pass on details of any sanctions/penalties and action in cases where this is indicated and to inform the accused individual that the awarding body may share information.
  2. Malpractice cases will remain confidential unless in the case of a serious malpractice, where threat to the integrity of the examination or assessment outweighs a duty of confidentiality, it will normally be necessary for information to be exchanged amongst:
    • the regulator(s)
    • other awarding bodies
    • other centres affected by the delivery of the qualification.
  3. Condition B3.2 of the Conditions of Recognition, provides more information of an adverse effect and includes examples of types of action to be taken by the head of centre, the governing body or the responsible employer.

6. Appeals

  1. KPA’s procedures for considering appeals against penalties arising from malpractice decisions.
    The following individuals have a right to appeal against decisions of the Governance Board:
    • Heads of centre, may appeal against sanctions imposed on the centre, its staff, or candidates entered or registered through the centre.
    • Centre staff may appeal against sanctions imposed on them personally.
    • Private candidates.
    • Third parties barred from taking or delivering KPA’s examinations or assessments

Appendix A: Definitions

Adverse effectAn act, omission, event, incident, or circumstance has an Adverse Effect if it –
  • gives rise to prejudice to Learners or potential Learners, or
  • adversely affects –
    1. the ability of the awarding organisation to undertake the development, delivery or award of qualifications in a way that complies with its Conditions of Recognition,
    2. the standards of qualifications which the awarding organisation makes available or proposes to make available, or
    3. public confidence in qualifications.
CentreAn organisation, such as a school, college, training company/provider or place of employment, which is approved by and accountable to KPA for the qualification delivery and/or assessment arrangements leading to a qualification award.
Head of centreThe most senior operational officer in the organisation, where an allegation of malpractice is made against a head of centre, KPA will nominate an individual (e.g. Chair of Governors) to carry out the investigation in the role of the Head of Centre.

The named key contact on the KPA centre agreement
Private candidatesA private candidate is ‘a candidate who pursues a course of study independently but makes an entry and takes an examination at an approved examination centre’.
Malpractice‘Malpractice’, means any act, default or practice which is a breach of the Regulations or which:
  • gives rise to prejudice to candidates
  • compromises public confidence in qualifications
  • attempts to compromise the process of assessment, the integrity of any qualification or the validity of a result or certificate
  • damages the authority, reputation or credibility of KPA or any officer, employee or agent of KPA.
Malpractice is not restricted to sitting an examination and includes forms of malpractice from emerging technologies and evolving examination centres.

Failure by a centre to notify, investigate and report to KPA all allegations of malpractice; or to take action required by KPA constitutes malpractice in itself.
Suspected malpracticeFor the purposes of this document suspected malpractice means all alleged incident of malpractice
Centre staff malpractice‘Centre staff malpractice’ means malpractice committed by:
  • a member of staff, contractor (whether employed under a contract of employment or a contract for services) or a volunteer at a centre
  • an individual appointed in another capacity by a centre such as an invigilator, or a specialist appointed in line with candidates’ access arrangement request.
Candidate malpractice‘Candidate malpractice’ means malpractice by a candidate in connection with any examination or assessment, including the preparation and authentication of any controlled assessments and the writing of any examination paper.