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Journalism training centre loses accreditation over exam ‘malpractice’

NCTJ logoA journalism training centre has lost its accreditation amid an investigation into “malpractice and maladministration” during exams.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists has announced it has temporarily stripped Brighton Journalist Works of its accreditation, after it found the integrity of exams at the centre had been “compromised”.

As reported on HTFP last month, dozens of students at BJW were told their shorthand results had been declared “null and void” by the NCTJ as a result of its investigation.

Other sanctions have already been imposed on Brighton Journalist Works by the NCTJ following problems with the delivery of shorthand and public affairs exams run at the centre at the end of 2015.

BJW has been told to take action to change its exam procedures and policies, and has been given 45 days to “remedy the default and to restore the NCTJ’s confidence in its ability to deliver exams to the required standard.”

All students at the centre are being contacted directly by the NCTJ to be told of the decision, and will be supported by the organisation until they complete their courses.

Teaching at the centre will continue as normal and exams will continue to be held in the next few weeks, under the close supervision of NCTJ representatives.

NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher said: “We have to make sure that all the courses accredited by the NCTJ maintain rigorous professional standards for the sake of all our students and their futures.

“The NCTJ has a duty to take action to maintain standards and we are very concerned and sorry that students have been affected.

“Brighton Journalist Works is co-operating with our investigations. The commitment the company has shown to making changes to exam operations, and the good relationship we have enjoyed with them for many years, makes me confident that this will be a temporary measure.”

The NCTJ’s head of qualifications Lyn Jones had previously claimed that BJW’s shorthand tutor introduced words into the warm-up passage used for 60 and 80 words per minute exams which subsequently featured in the exams proper.

It is understood the NCTJ became concerned about a high pass rate in those exams, which were held in November and December.

A total of 47 students – sitting 60, 80 and 100 words per minute exams – had their results nullified.

At the time, BJW’s managing director Paula O’Shea said the centre was conducting its own internal investigation and working with the NCTJ to ensure its procedures were “rigorous and robust going forward”.

A spokesman at the Brighton centre said the recommendations by the NCTJ had already been put into practice, and the senior staff are confident that the accreditation will be restored in March.

He stressed that none of the students required to re-take exams will be out of pocket. Their fees and travel expenses will be covered.

The NCTJ confirmed that it will also support the students until they complete their courses. Meanwhile, teaching at the centre will continue as normal and exams will be held under “the close supervision of NCTJ representatives.”

The issue will be reviewed by the NCTJ board in early March.


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  • January 15, 2016 at 10:56 am

    It’s heartening to see the NCTJ taking shorthand seriously.

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  • January 15, 2016 at 11:46 am

    This is horrible. I will sit my shorthand exam later this year and I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be told you didn’t in fact pass after all that stress!

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  • January 18, 2016 at 10:41 am

    When I took my shorthand exam back in 2002 we all knew our tutor read the exam more slowly. One of the guys recorded it to test our suspicions and he was about 15 seconds slower than he should have been. None of us said a word because we all really wanted to pass plus he always got his round in the pub. The NCE is a recorded passage, surely that would work much better than having it read out by the person who taught you and therefore really wants you to pass to make him or her look good. The current system seems open to abuse, as in this case. It’s also a reason why sometimes you take people on and they really struggle because they don’t actually have the skill they need.

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