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DS has been an idiot - plagiarism. What is the likely outcome?

(61 Posts)
fumps Thu 28-Nov-13 20:40:53

DS's coursework for an A'level standard qualification has been sent back to the school because he plagiarised work from another student in one of the modules.

He has 'fessed up to copying from a memory stick given to him by the other pupil (who is also in trouble for handing over his work), and his school has to submit a report to the examining board.

It was an incredibly stupid thing to do, and looking at the exam board website, he risks a range of penalties which go as far as not letting him sit any more exams.

He's predicted AAB in the 3 other subjects at A2 and in his defence was suffering a range of legitimate pressures at the time including his own long-standing disability, recovering from another short-term but serious illness and bereavement - he looked for a shortcut to get the coursework done rather than talk to his teachers or even us, his parents, about relieving the pressure.

I hope the school will reflect that in their report - they know he's been depressed and is having treatment - but does anyone here (especially anyone working for an examining body) have idea what the likely penalty might be in reality?

The plagiarised work represents a section of about a sixth of the overall qualification. My hope is that he will be awarded 0 for that section and be allowed to re-do it, but that might be over-optimistic.

The only positive is that he has learned this lesson now, not at university or A2 (if he can now get that far).

Mogz Thu 28-Nov-13 21:21:05

My only experience with this comes from a girl in my a level English class when we were at college. I'm unsure of the complete circumstances but know she copied a lot of an essay from a source on the Internet for coursework, was found out, given an automatic fail for that module and was subsequently disqualified from taking any more of the exams towards that a level.
As far as I know it did not affect her taking any of her other exams in other subjects.

I hope for your son's sake that he has learnt his lesson, and if he needs to make up any exam shortfalls he can do so during resits in the new year. I also hope he is making progress against his depression, best of luck to him.

fumps Thu 28-Nov-13 22:16:11

Thanks. It won't be the end of the world if he is barred from that qualification, although a pity as most of the work was all his own and of a high standard.

My main concern is his depression - he is responding to treatment but this episode has come at a bad time and I don't want him to sink further when he seemed to be recovering.

Mogz Thu 28-Nov-13 23:24:32

Hopefully If he can see where he went wrong and, with help from you/school/therapist, put a plan in place to get back on track with his schooling then he has a really good chance of it not holding him back too much health wise. I always found that having a solid plan in place for something that was bothering me made it easier to deal with, my therapist whilst I was at school was excellent at helping me come up with some rock solid plans for coping.

crazymum53 Fri 29-Nov-13 09:56:01

Coursework is supposed to be checked by the teachers before it is sent to the exam board so I would be asking wondering why the school hadn't noticed beforehand.
Being barred from exams is usually the sanction for cheating in exams so he should still be able to take these in the Summer.
His coursework grade will either be set to zero or he will only receive credit for the parts of his work that are actually his!

fumps Fri 29-Nov-13 10:24:33

Thanks both. I wonder how quickly the exam board will respond ? He needs to know the outcome before submitting his Ucas form.

Vivacia Fri 29-Nov-13 20:06:58

Coursework is supposed to be checked by the teachers before it is sent to the exam board so I would be asking wondering why the school hadn't noticed beforehand.

Just fantastic.

sassytheFIRST Fri 29-Nov-13 20:12:24

crazymum - it WILL have been checked, in detail; read and marked. However, can you remember every piece of text, every bit of data etc that you saw a year ago, so much so that you would recognise it if you saw it again? doubtful.

OP - this is v serious. We had a student caught plagarising at GCSE least year (by the exam board); she scored zero for her coursework and ended up with an E (B/C grade student) as it all rested on her exam performance minus the deducted percentage. Sorry I can't be more positive.

fumps Fri 29-Nov-13 20:47:10

If he doesn't get the qualification at all, it's not the end of the world - he should still have 3 other good A'levels as long as they don't impose the ultimate sanction of refusing him the chance to sit all other exams with that board.

Any idea how long the board will take to decide?

It's his fault - he knows that, although the school should also have checked the coursework, so it doesn't reflect well on them. They're allocated different tutor mentors who work with them for this qualification and it doesn't sound like there's a system to cross-check.

He's a lot more rational and resigned to it today - a hard lesson to learn, but it needs to be kept in perspective.

NorthernLurker Fri 29-Nov-13 20:55:03

I'm sorry for this difficult situation OP and I hope your son recovers from his depression quickly but you're doing nobody any favours saying this doesn't reflect well on the school. It isn't their job to save your son from himself. He cheated. He shouldn't have. This is really between him and the board and you shouldn't blame the school at all.
It's good he's learning this now. If you get caught for this at university they generally chuck you off the course. Hopefully he will never make this mistake again. Can he do anything to support the person who lent him the work? Did he ask them to do so? If so he should fess that up too. May relieve the pressure on them a bit.

joanofarchitrave Fri 29-Nov-13 21:10:56

With any luck he has worked out that trying a 'shortcut' to relieve his stress has just made his stress and depression much worse. It's not encouraging that his reaction to difficult times was to cheat, but he isn't the first and won't be the last.

I have to say, for HIM to go and talk to people to find out what the effects might be, would be some evidence that he was taking responsibility for this.

fumps Fri 29-Nov-13 21:40:56

Northernlurker - Who says I (or he) is blaming the school? We're not - entirely his fault and he'll be going to eat a big slice of humble pie with his teachers and the other pupil. I'd be furious if I was the other pupil's parent.

But, it won't reflect well on the school, will it? And he needs to apologise to them for that.

Vivacia Fri 29-Nov-13 22:10:14

I feel very strongly that it's not the school's fault. They should take steps to not facilitate plagiarism, but it's the student's responsibility and moral obligation not to cheat.

Lionessnurturingcubs Fri 29-Nov-13 23:11:22

Fumps - were the school aware of your son's disability? If they were, did they make any reasonable adjustments for him to do the coursework, ie. extra time?
If the school were aware of his disability then under the Equality Act 2010 they have a duty to make reasonable adjustments and they have to anticipate the reasonable adjustments required. So if they were aware of his disability but did not make any reasonable adjustment, then they have failed under the Public Sector Equality Duty. You should speak to EASS - Equality Advisory - they offer really good advice.
If someone has a disability it absolutely is a school's fault if they don't assist. Young people should not be failing due to a school's inability to comprehend and implement the law.
Hope your son is doing better.

fumps Fri 29-Nov-13 23:22:16

Yes, they knew of his disability. The main impact is the amount of time he needs off for medical appointments, which does mean he had extra catching up to do.

He has recently been diagnosed with a slight learning disability which means he gets more time in exams, but this wasn't known at the time of the coursework. It is part of the explanation why he felt so under pressure.

Lionessnurturingcubs Fri 29-Nov-13 23:54:28

Then I would urge you to contact the Equality Advisory Service as they should be able to assist.
Did the school give him extra time, provide him with the work he had missed due to appointments etc. as that is going to be key to whole thing?
There must be a process that allows you to appeal the decision, and I would definitely be doing that on the grounds of disability and no reasonable adjustments (if there weren't) made. Good luck with it all.

fumps Sat 30-Nov-13 00:03:26

Thanks Lionness. I will contact the service and take advice after checking with ds what adjustments they have made for catching up.

I suspect not much - I seem to have had constant new conversations with various staff over the years who clearly had no idea about his disability despite my telling the school numerous times.

He was still daft to do what he did though, but there is considerable mitigation.

strugglinginsilence Sat 30-Nov-13 04:37:41

I hate to say this but it does not appear that his disability prevents him from knowing right from wrong. I am not saying his situation shouldn't have entitled him to much more support but sometimes young people just need to take it on the chin. 'You did the wrong thing, take the consequences, move on and don't do it again!' I think by calling it 'daft' you are trivializing it too much.You need to send the message that it was wrong but sometimes good people do wrong things because they are upset so next time you feel like that talk to someone first.

I hope he continue s to do well in his other exams.

fumps Sat 30-Nov-13 07:54:36

Believe me, he has the message loud and clear that what he did was wrong. I have used many words to describe it, and have certainly not trivialised it with him. I want to keep it in perspective though - he is depressed but seems to be pulling out of that, with help.

However, I will, discreetly, look into the disability issue and ask him what allowances the school has made for coursework deadlines because of the amount of time his has missed.

This was a child under a lot of pressure. He has to face the consequences of course, but there are mitigating circumstances which I laid out in my OP, and I have asked the school to include those in their report to the examining board.

The fact I had to spell the name of his physical (but not visible) disability in the school meeting I attended with him did not indicate to me that it's been at the front of their minds, despite many communications with the disability written down - e.g every consent form for school trips as well as their central record.

Vivacia Sat 30-Nov-13 08:29:29

every consent form for school trips as well as their central record

But have you had contact with the SEN provision? Does he have a statement or whatever the equivalent is now?

sashh Sat 30-Nov-13 09:28:47

He was still daft to do what he did though, but there is considerable mitigation.

Sorry but I don't think there is any mitigation.

He basically stole something, that's what plagiarism is, theft.

Also this is not just about your child, although obviously and rightly for you it is.

The school could be stopped from entering any students for exams with this exam board.

Yes that is unlikely for a single piece of plagiarism to which a student has admitted but that is how serious this is

Blissx Sat 30-Nov-13 09:53:11

I can't help but also feel sorry for the other student who handed over his memory stick to help your child out. A very stupid thing to do but did he know your DS would copy his work, word for word? He may also be disqualified for this qualification and it was his own work and a thought must be spared for him too. What 'mitigating circumstances' can this boy plead? Plagiarism affects so many people and this is a sad situation all round.

Vivacia Sat 30-Nov-13 11:30:17

He basically stole something, that's what plagiarism is, theft.

And signed his name to say he hadn't. Nobody wants this to effect his education in the future, but I think it's serious and 100% the boy's responsibility.

Lionessnurturingcubs Sat 30-Nov-13 14:33:42

Sweeping statements casting blame simply show a lack of understanding of disability, what it can do to a person and the reason why we have the Equality Act 2010 in this country and in particular the Public sector equality duty for schools. How does anyone know for example "his disability doesn't prevent him from knowing right from wrong."? My son has diabetes, and if his blood sugar is too high or low it affects the cognitive part of the brain. Depression is a mental health issue, so could quite easily prevent him from knowing right from wrong. People have been let off in court for much worse crimes due to depression. An act of plagiarism, whilst against the rules, is hardly life threatening and it is preferable that something like this happens to ensure that HE does get the support he needs in the future.
Vivacia - Public Sector Equality Duty is 100% a school's responsibility and 100% the law. We should be addressing the fact that many, many schools in this country are NOT abiding by the law and by not doing so are failing otherwise capable young people. It is that that needs addressing rather than casting blame on a young person who quite frankly has enough to deal with.
Disabled children deserve to have the law applied properly in schools. If it is not, then the school is 100% to blame for the consequences.

Vivacia Sat 30-Nov-13 14:40:52

Apologies Lion I did not know that the school have a duty to test all pupils for unknown physical disabilities. I thought they tested for learning difficulties and in response to parents' or teachers' concerns.

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