High-achiever, 17, stripped of maths GCSE amid 'cheating' claim

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

  • Emil Bednarski claims he didn’t know the question was from an upcoming exam

A high-flying maths pupil who found a revision question online that later appeared in his exam paper has been stripped of his GCSE amid claims he cheated.

Emil Bednarski, 17, recognised the question in his maths paper in May after stumbling across it the night before as he looked up practice papers for last-minute cramming.

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.

Emil, a pupil at Kensington Aldridge Academy in west London, has been accused of cheating and deliberately obtaining the question early. 

He maintains that he did not realise it was going to appear in the paper and had run it past the teacher innocuously.

Invigilator Pearson initially refused to award him any maths GCSE at all before agreeing to give him a grade 5 – equivalent to a high C or low B under the old marking system – upon appeal.

Emil Bednarski, 17, was stripped of his maths GCSE amid claims that he cheated

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

READ MORE: GCSE students being charged £500 for fake ‘leaked exam papers’ by scammers on Instagram and TikTok 

But Emil’s family are demanding an apology and compensation from the exam board.

His father Cezary told The Times: ‘Not guilty of anything, Emil would have been knocked off his A-level education pathway.

‘This would have had a significant impact on his prospects for the rest of his life, were it not for his school’s fairness and integrity.’

The headteacher of Kensington Aldridge Academy has stood by the pupil, telling the exam board that it would be ‘very surprising’ for a pupil to knowingly admit to cheating by sharing a leaked exam question with a teacher. 

Emil says he came across the question while searching for practice papers the night before the exam on websites such as Reddit and TikTok.

Appealing to the exam board, he went as far as showing investigators his bank account to show that no money had been exchanged for illegal access to papers.

In a statement to the board, Emil said: ‘This whole saga, which in reality has nothing to do with me, placed me under massive stress… in the middle of my GCSEs.’ 

Pearson initially wrote off all three maths exam papers, saying its finding of malpractice was done ‘on the balance of probability’. It eventually granted him a grade 5 pass on appeal. 

In remarks reported by BBC News, Emil’s father said that he understood why the teacher reported the concerns to the school, and subsequently why the school passed the concerns to invigilator Pearson.

However, he maintains that the exam board has been too harsh – adding that his son had been on track for a top grade were it not for the punishment.

Kensington Aldridge Academy told MailOnline that it could not comment on individual pupils. 

Pearson maintains that its decision to punish the pupil was correct. In an appeal outcome letter, seen by the BBC, it states that it was ‘clear’ the teenager had gained access to the question before it appeared in the exam. But it said it was unclear whether he knew it was going to be in the paper.

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

A spokesperson for Pearson said: ‘We cannot comment on individual investigations — however we take all malpractice allegations very seriously and our expert team investigates each and every one. 

‘Malpractice is extremely rare. We have well-established processes in place to ensure fair and accurate results.

‘All exam boards use analysis during and after marking to look for tell-tale signs of malpractice in exam papers — both at an individual and cohort level. 

‘Our review found no evidence that would require an adjustment to the marking or grading of exams.’

But the row comes after Pearson and another exam board, OCR, were targeted in a data breach earlier this year that is being investigated by Cambridgeshire Police.

The force said both boards had exam papers extracted from their systems and sold online — though it isn’t clear whether the papers accessed included maths materials. 

A police spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We are investigating a data breach where two examination boards had exam papers extracted from their systems and sold online.

‘We are working with the Department for Education and the National Crime Agency’s National Cyber Crime Unit.

‘A 16-year-old boy was arrested on 4 July on suspicion of theft, fraud and computer misuse. He has since been released under investigation while we carry out further enquiries.’

Kensington Aldridge Academy is a non-selective, co-educational school in Notting Hill with more 1,300 students.

After being temporarily relocated following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 – in which four pupils at the school died – it was named Secondary School of the Year by the Times Educational Supplement (TES).

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