Father of top student stripped of his math GCSE over cheat allegations

Architect father of high-flying student, 16, hits out after his son was stripped of Maths GCSE and given a three-hour grilling after showing teacher a question he’d spotted online that then ended up in the exam 

  • Emil Bednarski, 17, found a question online that later appeared in his exam paper
  • Father Cezary Bednarski is now seeking an apology and compensation from the exam board for his son’s treatment

The father of a high-flying student who was stripped of his maths GCSE over ‘cheating’ allegations told how his son had been treated ‘worse than a criminal’.

Furious Cezary Bednarski hit out at the ‘scandalous’ treatment of his son Emil, now 17, after he found a question while revising online which later appeared in his exam paper.

Mr Bednarski, a renowned architect, said Emil was ‘accosted’ by invigilators and interrogated for three hours after sitting his paper.

He told how he is seeking an apology and compensation from exam board Pearson who he has accused of ‘gross misconduct’ over the affair.

Cezary Bednarski said his son had been treated ‘worse than a criminal’ over cheating allegations and he was now seeking an apology and compensation from exam board Pearson

Mr Bednarski told MailOnline: ‘It was really scandalous the way they did it.

‘They accosted him. He was coming out of the exam and there were two guys with the headteacher.

‘They took him outside and then they took him to a room. They grilled him for three hours.

READ MORE: High-achieving pupil, 17, was stripped of his maths GCSE after exam question he found online during last-minute revision appeared on his exam paper

‘You can’t accost a boy coming out of an exam without forewarning his parents that there will be an interrogation.

‘A criminal would have been treated more fairly.

‘If you are a criminal you have the right to remain silent by law, and you have the right to have a lawyer with you.

‘What the hell was this? You have a 16-year-old boy stressed out of the wits with exams. There is also the issue of his human rights.’

The family insist the exam board’s findings of ‘malpractice’ in the case simply don’t add up.

Emil, a pupil at Kensington Aldridge Academy in west London, told how he found the question the night before his exam when he was doing some last minute revision searching online for practise papers.

Puzzled by the trigonometry question, he ran it past a teacher on the morning of the exam – who recognised it as material from the paper and reported it to his school.

Mr Bednarski said: ‘The way you learn these days you scavenge online – you find predicted questions, last year’s questions, potential questions.

‘I said to Pearson they should give my son a medal for being so proactive. They should have had a team searching online checking if their questions had appeared and remove the questions from the paper if they have.’

Emil Bednarski, 17, was stripped of his maths GCSE, but after an appeal, he was awarded a grade 5 in his maths exam – equivalent to a high C or low B under the old marking system

Describing his son’s ordeal Mr Bednarski said: ‘They told him to show them his mobile phone. They need a court order to do that.

‘They were in no position to force him to show his private stuff but they did.

‘They could have waited until after he had finished his exams to find out what happened.

‘What was the point in bothering the boy in the first week of his GCSE exams? It was his third or fourth exam.

‘He heard nothing more until he went to school to get his GCSE results and he only found out that day that he was not getting his A Level maths.

‘They said they would not score him because he cheated. We heard about this saga straight away. We sent them documents and they were supposed to come back to us but they took a month and a half.

‘He was below predictions in all the other subjects because he was so stressed and worried.’

Emil said he believed that the exam board may have repeated a question which had been set in previous years.

But it has since emerged that questions from the maths paper, which tens of thousands of pupils sat on that day, may have been leaked before the start of the exam.

Emil said he came across the question after searching for past papers on websites such as TikTok and Reddit

The pupil at Kensington Aldridge Academy in west London (pictured) said he recognised the maths question from a revision paper he found online

Cambridgeshire Police confirmed an investigation had been launched after Pearson and another exam board, OCR, were targeted in a data breach earlier this year.

They said both boards had exam papers extracted from their systems and sold online.

Mr Bednarski insisted his son would not have approached the teacher before the exam if he had been cheating.

He said: ‘My son didn’t cheat. He didn’t need to cheat – he is extremely good at maths.

‘My son felt that they had just repeated the question.

‘With my son they are just covering up. There was a leak and that’s it.’

After an appeal, Emil was awarded a grade 5 in his maths exam – equivalent to a high C or low B under the old marking system.

The paper which featured the trigonometry question – one of three papers in the exam – was discounted.

Mr Bednarski said that had Pearson allowed all Emil’s maths papers to be marked, he would have achieved a top-rated Grade 8 or 9.

He called for the exam board to re-mark the paper for all students who sat the exam excluded the question at the centre of the controversy.

He said: ‘It was absolutely clear, it was not only him who found the question. He was the one to talk to his teachers and they knew about him.

‘The only rational line of action for Pearson was to stop this question, remove it from scoring in the whole country.

‘It could be one boy, ten boys, 100 boys, 1,000 boys. How to they know?

‘They just singled out my son because he spoke to the teacher.’

Mr Bednarski said his son, who is now studying for four A Levels, is re-sitting his maths GCSE next month.

He said the furore has interfered with his studies and told how the decision by the board could impact the rest of his life.

He said: ‘The problem is my son wanted to do Higher Maths which is more sophisticated stuff.

‘He is not able to do that as planned and that could affect his future.

‘He’s retaking his GCSE maths next month but it’s interfering with his education.

‘Pearson should say they are sorry. They made a mistake, there was a leak but it’s my son who is losing out.’

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