We are not teaching them to pass exams…

A recent post in the Guardian Secret Teacher  column focused on a school in which plagiarism was given tacet permission to take place as part of the essay writing process. 

I am not surprised by this. I have taught many students over the years who view plagiarism as a fully acceptable approach to essay writing. What is possibly worse is that that do so knowing that if the matter is raised with their parents, the response will be supportive of their position- the argument being that anything is legitimate in the thirst for high marks, as long as one is not caught.

Most  schools have a plagiarism policy which will get tough- eventually. Obviously with so much riding on assessment of outcome rather than process, nowhere is going to act as strongly as some might wish for a first offence.

My feeling is that not to act is to fail as an educator. I do not believe that I am teaching children to pass A levels as a finite action. Surely we teach to pass students to the next level. Primaries are preparing children for secondary study, not for KS2SATS; KS4 is about preparing for A Levels and KS5 is about preparing for further education. To give any suggestion that a lack of academic honesty is acceptable is to fail to provide a good education.

In the internet world, students routinely cut and paste notes, homework and essay content in many schools. Some “educators” suggest that google can and should replace knowledge. In essence this encourages the actions of such short-term practices as replacing research with plagiarism, and replacing hard work with under-considered internet browsing. 

In short, to turn a blind eye to plagiarism is to condone cheating and to condone cheating is to fatally undermine the whole point of education.

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