Malpractice and Maladministration Policy

1 Overview

1.1 This policy covers malpractice by learners/candidates, centre staff or others involved in the provision and assessment of The Association of British Education Awards (ABEA) qualifications, and maladministration on the part of the centre or any other party involved in the assessment process.

1.2 What is Malpractice and Maladministration? These are defined as follows:

1.2.1 any actions ABEA defines under malpractice will be any acts of dishonesty, any that are wilfully negligent or any practice which compromises or threatens to compromise the validity of the assessment process and which brings the reputation of ABEA and the award of its qualifications and units into disrepute. (See Appendix for some examples of malpractice.)

1.2.2 Any actions ABEA defines under maladministration will be any failure to adhere to ABEA policies and procedures in relation to assessment or to comply with the requirements of ABEA’s Qualification Guides and published procedures either through mistakes or poor administration.

1.3 ABEA seeks to ensure the avoidance of malpractice in every aspect of the assessment process, to undertake careful review of any reports of malpractice/maladministration, and to take robust action to resolve any proven cases, and prevent any Adverse Effects (see Ofqual General Conditions of Recognition J1.8) that may subsequently impact on learners/candidates or the standards of qualifications.

1.4 ABEA is committed to complying with the Regulators’ Conditions of Recognition on malpractice and maladministration and to taking notice of any written guidance provided by them.

2 ABEA Responsibilities

2.1 ABEA will

2.1.1 Ensure that it takes all reasonable steps to prevent the occurrence of any malpractice or maladministration. ABEA has policies and procedures in place that aim to reduce the risk of malpractice and maladministration, to safeguard the integrity of the qualification and to protect the interests of centres and learners/candidates;

2.1.2 Support its approved sub-contractors and centres in dealing with suspected cases and any ensuing investigation and action;

2.1.3 Acknowledge and act upon the information given by whistle-blowers and protect their anonymity when requested;

2.1.4 Carry out all its duties in line with its procedures and without undue delay;

2.1.5 Take appropriate and proportionate action against those responsible for malpractice or maladministration;

2.1.6 Apply appropriate sanctions;

2.1.7 Report the incident to the relevant regulators and other stakeholders, where appropriate.

See ABEA’s Sanctions Policy


3 Centre Responsibilities

3.1 All ABEA approved centres are accountable to ABEA for assessment arrangements that lead to the achievement of a qualification or unit(s), and are responsible for all staff or persons who contribute to and take part in the assessment process.

3.2 Centres must ensure, therefore, that all staff are aware of their responsibilities to prevent malpractice and to follow their own and ABEA’s procedures regarding the delivery of both internal and external assessments.

3.3 Centres must report any irregularities in respect of non-compliance with internal assessment, internal moderation or examination procedures in writing immediately they are discovered using the relevant Malpractice Notification form

3.4 ABEA will expect centres to co-operate fully with ABEA, including responding to requests to visit the centre and to discuss any cases with the centre’s staff. In all cases centres must keep all affected staff and learners/candidates informed of the process throughout any ensuing investigation.

3.5 Where suspected irregularities are reported other than by the centre, ABEA will notify the centre’s Quality Manager who must acknowledge a request, either to carry out an investigation or provide information to ABEA, within 5 working days of receiving that request.

3.6 The time taken for a centre to investigate any suspected irregularities may vary but ABEA will expect a timely and detailed response to ensure that learners/candidates and the integrity of ABEA qualifications are not put at further risk.

4 Dealing with cases of suspected Malpractice

4.1 Once a potential case of malpractice has been identified ABEA will review the information available and determine one of the following courses of action:

  • Take no further action;
  • Ask the centre’s Quality Manager to investigate the alleged malpractice;
  • Ask the centre’s Quality Manager to provide information that may provide evidence to support/refute the alleged malpractice;
  • Consider whether the regulators and other Awarding Organisations should be notified;
  • Carry out a full investigation.


5 Investigations

5.1 Investigations are supervised by ABEA’s Head of Compliance and Regulations. Each case is judged on an individual basis in the light of the information made available.

5.2 Any investigation will endeavour to determine the facts and will include a review of ABEA’s own documentation relating to its respective policies and procedures and/or to the delivery and assessment guidance provided for a particular qualification.

5.3 During an investigation interviews may be required with centre staff.

5.4 ABEA may communicate directly with a learner/candidate if circumstances dictate this is required.

5.5 ABEA will provide a written report within one month of completing the investigation, detailing the circumstances of the alleged malpractice, details of any interviews with centre staff or candidates, and any remedial action which needs to be taken.

5.6 All reports will be approved and signed off by the Director of Awarding Services.

6 Dealing with proven cases of Malpractice and Maladministration

6.1 Where malpractice or maladministration is established, ABEA will, where appropriate, endeavour to protect the interests of all learners/candidates who through no fault of their own have been caught up in an incident. However, if the integrity of the qualification is deemed to be at risk awards may not be made, and if already made may be revoked.

6.2 Any decisions made by ABEA will be commensurate with the gravity of the malpractice / maladministration identified and associated risk. ABEA may

6.2.1 Impose sanctions and apply conditions on the future involvement of any designated centre personnel in the conduct, supervision or administration of its assessments;

6.2.2 Not award certificates, and if already issued, may declare them invalid;

6.2.3 Revoke a centre’s qualification approval or recognition;

6.3 ABEA will report the outcome to the regulatory authorities and to any other Awarding Organisation where there is known to be a relationship.

6.4 Any suspected criminal activity will be reported to the police.

7 Whistle-blowers

7.1 ABEA will act upon any disclosure received from any member of its staff, subcontractors, approved centre staff, learner or member of the public who feels that any malpractice or maladministration has taken place within an ABEA approved centre.

7.2 Any person who believes that an ABEA approved centre, one of its staff or an ABEA sub-contractor has committed an offence or breach of ABEA procedures in the past, now or is likely to in the future, may disclose information by contacting an ABEA manager or completing an ABEA Whistle-blower Report Form available from the ABEA website here.

7.3 Where information is provided over the telephone, ABEA will request this to be provided in writing and may ask for further information to enable a thorough investigation to take place.

7.4 Any disclosure will be dealt with in confidence wherever possible, but ABEA may need to disclose a whistle-blower’s identity to

  • The police, fraud prevention agencies or other law enforcement agencies (to investigate or prevent crime, including fraud);
  • The courts (in connection with court proceedings);
  • Another person to whom ABEA is required by law to make a disclosure;
  • The Regulators responsible for regulating qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Whistle-blowers should also be aware that they may be identifiable by others due to the nature or circumstances of the disclosure.

7.5 Where possible whistle-blowers will receive an update on any planned course of action. However, ABEA has a responsibility to all concerned with respect to confidentiality and may not be entitled to divulge the details of any on-going investigation or its outcome. It will, however, confirm that action has been taken where required.

8 Centre Appeals against ABEA Decisions

8.1 Centres may appeal against any decisions taken by ABEA as a result of a malpractice or maladministration investigation. Any initial enquiry regarding decisions made will be investigated by an internal panel, which will review the evidence and the decisions made. If the outcome of this review is to uphold the original decision and the centre is still dissatisfied, the centre may make a formal appeal. Any appeal process will include a panel member who is independent of ABEA and the decision of this panel will be final. (ABEA’s Appeals Policy and Procedure)

9 Centre Monitoring following Malpractice or Maladministration

9.1 Where suspected malpractice or maladministration has been proven and the centre has been allowed to retain its ABEA approval, ABEA will consider the centre high risk and will monitor the centre on a regular basis until such time ABEA is confident the centre no longer represents a risk to its learners or the integrity of ABEA qualifications.

9.2 There will be a requirement that centres review relevant policies and procedures in the light of any proven malpractice or maladministration and confirm that this review has taken place. Evidence of such a review may be requested immediately, or during ABEA’s external moderation activity at the centre.

10 Quality Assurance

10.1 This policy will be reviewed annually to meet regulatory compliance or following any case of confirmed malpractice.


1.1 Centre Malpractice. This list is not exhaustive but examples of centre malpractice would include:

  • Insecure storage of assessments;
  • Inappropriate adjustments to assessments or assessment decisions;
  • Failure to comply with ABC’s assessment requirements including the retention of assessment evidence and internal moderation records;
  • Deliberately ignoring plagiarised/copied material;
  • Prompting learners during assessments or giving the answers;
  • Failure to comply with ABC assessment procedures;
  • Deliberate falsification of records to claim certification;
  • Manufacture of evidence;
  • Allowing reasonable adjustments without the appropriate evidence or without notifying ABC;
  • False claims for certification.


1.2 Candidate Malpractice. This list is not exhaustive but examples of learner/candidate malpractice may include:

  • Plagiarism;
  • Collusion;
  • Copying;
  • Unauthorised aids during external assessment e.g. notes, mobile phone;
  • Inappropriate behaviour during assessments;
  • Inappropriate/abusive comments in assessment evidence.