Malpractice and Maladministration
Definition of Malpractice
Malpractice is essentially any activity or practice which deliberately contravenes regulations and compromises the integrity of the internal or external assessment process and/or the validity of certificates and associated achievement. It covers any deliberate actions, neglect, default or other practices that compromises, or could compromise:
- the assessment process
- the integrity of a qualification
- the validity of a result or certificate
- the reputation and credibility of Active X Backs or the qualification or the wider qualifications community
Malpractice may include a range of issues from the failure to maintain appropriate records or systems, to the deliberate falsification of records in order to claim certificates.
For the purpose of this policy this term also covers misconduct and forms of unnecessary discrimination or bias towards certain groups of learners.
Examples of malpractice
The categories listed below are examples of centre and learner malpractice. Please note that these examples are not exhaustive and are only intended as guidance on our definition of malpractice:
- Denial of access to premises, records, information, learners and staff to any authorised Active X Backs representative and/or the regulatory authorities
- Failure to carry out internal assessment, internal moderation or internal verification in accordance with our requirements
- Deliberate failure to adhere to our learner registration and certification requirements
- Deliberate failure to maintain appropriate auditable records, e.g. certification claims and/or disposal and/or forgery of evidence
- Fraudulent claim(s) for certificates
- The unauthorised use of inappropriate materials / equipment in assessment settings (e.g. mobile phones)
- Intentional withholding of information from Active X Backs which is critical to
maintaining the rigour of quality assurance and standards of qualifications
- Deliberate misuse of our logo and trademarks or misrepresentation of a centre’s relationship with CIMSPA and/or its approval status with Active X Backs.
- Collusion or permitting collusion in quizzes/assessments
- Learners still working towards qualification after certification claims have been made
- A loss, theft of, or a breach of confidentiality in, any assessment materials
- Plagiarism by learners/staff
- Copying from another learner (including using ICT to do so)
- Impersonation – assuming the identity of another learner, or having someone assume your identity during an assessment
- Unauthorised amendment, copying or distributing of exam/assessment papers/materials
- Inappropriate assistance to learners by Active X Backs staff (e.g. unfairly helping them to pass an assessment)
- Deliberate submission of false information to gain a qualification
- Deliberate failure to adhere to, or to circumnavigate the requirements of CIMSPA Reasonable Assessment Adjustments and Special Considerations Policy
Definition of Maladministration.
Maladministration is essentially any activity or practice which results in non-compliance with administrative regulations and requirements and includes the application of persistent mistakes or poor administration within Active X Backs (e.g. inappropriate learner records).
The categories listed below are examples of centre and learner maladministration. Please note that these examples are not exhaustive and are only intended as guidance on our definition of malpractice:
- Unintentional, but persistent failure to adhere to our centre approval or qualification requirements and/or associated actions assigned to the centre
- Late learner registrations (either infrequent or persistent)
- Unreasonable delays in responding to requests and/or communications from CIMSPA
- Inaccurate claim for certificates made frequently, even if accidentally
- Failure to maintain appropriate auditable records, e.g. certification claims and/or disposal and/or forgery of evidence
- Withholding of information from CIMSPA which is required to assure CIMPSA of the centre’s ability to deliver qualifications appropriately
- Misuse of CIMSPA logo and trademarks, or misrepresentation of a centre’s relationship with CIMSPA and/or its approval status with CIMSPA
- Failure to adhere to, or to circumnavigate, the requirements of CIMSPA Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations Policy
Making an allegation of malpractice or maladministration.
Anybody who identifies or is made aware of suspected or actual cases of malpractice or maladministration at any time must immediately notify the appropriate personnel at Active X Backs and CIMSPA.. In doing so they should put them in writing/email and enclose appropriate supporting evidence. If the area of malpractice or maladministration involves Active X Backs then the informant may bypass us as a centre and report straight to CIMSPA.
All allegations must include (where possible):
- Centre’s name, address and number
- Learner’s name and CIMSPA registration number (If known)
- Centre/CIMSPA personnel’s details (name, job role) if they are involved in the case
- Details of the CIMSPA course/qualification affected or nature of the service affected
- Nature of the suspected or actual malpractice and associated dates
- Details and outcome of any initial investigation carried out by the centre or anybody else involved in the case, including any mitigating circumstances
If Active X Backs has conducted an initial investigation prior to formally notifying CIMSPA, Active X Backs should ensure that staff involved in the initial investigation are competent and have no personal interest in the outcome of the investigation. However, it is important to note that in all instances Active X Backs must immediately notify CIMSPA if they suspect malpractice maladministration has occurred as CIMSPA have a responsibility to the regulatory authorities to ensure that all investigations are carried out rigorously and effectively.
In all cases of suspected malpractice and maladministration reported to CIMSPA they will protect the identity of the ‘informant’ in accordance with their duty of confidentiality and/or any other legal duty.
Active X Backs responsibility to prevent malpractice and maladministration.
To eradicate cases of malpractice/maladministration Active X Backs will ensure:
- All staff are aware of policies and procedures and receive appropriate training/briefings on these
- Staff have clear roles and responsibilities
- There is a documented internal quality assurance procedure/methodology that is clearly in place and is subject to regular internal reviews
- There are documented internal standard arrangements in place and evidence that these take place at least once a year
- Learners are informed of their roles and responsibilities in terms of not doing anything that may be deemed a malpractice and jeopardise their potential achievements
- All assessment and internal verification activities are accurately recorded and carried out in accordance with the Active X Backs internal quality assurance arrangements and in line with the Active X Backs expectations as outlined in its qualification guides etc.
- All registration, assessment and certification records will be digitally encrypted for up to 3 years after the student has completed their course. Only authorised and appropriate members of staff will have access to them
Active X Backs procedure to investigate malpractice or maladministration.
To embed effective arrangements to investigate instances or malpractice/maladministration, the following process will ensue. It is intended that the stages involve generic key activities; however, not all these would be implemented in every case.
Stage 1: Briefing and record-keeping
Anyone involved in the conduct of an investigation should have a clear brief and understanding of their role.
All investigators must maintain an auditable record of every action during an investigation to demonstrate that they have acted appropriately.
The officer assigning the investigating officer(s) will stipulate and/or provide secure storage arrangements for all material associated with an investigation in case of subsequent legal challenge. There may be occasions when a joint investigation occurs with CIMSPA, with the roles of the two teams being clarified by CIMSPA. It is Active X Backs’ responsibility to ensure their investigators are fully aware of the agreed roles and processes to follow during the investigation.
Stage 2: Establishing the facts
Investigators should review the evidence and associated documentation, including relevant CIMSPA guidance on the delivery of the qualifications and related quality assurance arrangements.
Issues to be determined are:
- What occurred (nature of malpractice/substance of the allegations)
- Why the incident occurred
- Who was involved in the incident
- When it occurred
- Where it occurred – there may be more than one location
- What action, if any, Active X Backs has taken
Stage 3: Interviews
Interviews should be thoroughly prepared, conducted appropriately and underpinned by clear records of the interviews. For example:
- Interviews should include prepared questions and responses to questions which should be recorded
- Interviewers may find it helpful to use the ‘PEACE’ technique:
o plan and prepare
o engage and explain
Face-to-face interviews should normally be conducted by two people with one person primarily acting as the interviewer and the other as note-taker.
Those being interviewed should be informed that they may have another individual of their choosing present and that they do not have to answer questions. These arrangements aim to protect the rights of all individuals. Both parties should sign the account as a true record/reflection of what was covered/stated/agreed.
Stage 4: Other contacts
In some cases, learners or employers may need to be contacted for facts and information. This may be done via face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, by post or email.
Whichever method is used, the investigator will have a set of prepared questions. The responses will be recorded in writing as part of confirmation of the evidence. Investigators should log the number of attempts made to contact an individual. Again accounts should be signed for agreement with written records to be formatted as non-editable PDF.
Stage 5: Documentary evidence
Wherever possible documentary evidence should be authenticated by reference to the author; this may include asking learners and others to confirm handwriting, dates and signatures.
Receipts should be given for any documentation removed from Active X Backs.
Independent expert opinion may be obtained from subject specialists about a learner’s evidence and/or from a specialist organisation such as a forensic examiner, who may comment on the validity of documents.
Stage 6: Conclusions
Once the investigators have gathered and reviewed all relevant evidence, a decision is made on the outcome.
Stage 7: Reporting
A draft report is prepared and factual accuracy agreement obtained. The final report is submitted to the relevant staff member within Active X Backs for review and sign-off and shared with CIMSPA and relevant parties within your organisation.
Stage 8: Actions
Any resultant action plan is implemented and monitored appropriately and CIMSPA notified.