STUDENTS were sent home from an exam after it was revealed the question paper had been stolen in a possible hacking attack.
Bhasvic, in Dyke Road, Hove, cancelled its A-level physics mock yesterday morning after the security breach over the weekend.
The paper is thought to have been stolen by a student or students from college’s computers and shared on social media.
More than 200 teenagers arrived to take the exam at 9am only to be turned away with a letter from the deputy principal, James Moncrieff.
It read: “Both the paper and mark scheme are securely held by staff within the physics department and we are investigating the circumstances by which a student [or students] were able to download the files and share them with a substantial proportion of the A1 physics student cohort. If it transpires that any student purposefully acquired these files without permission, disciplinary action will be taken by the college.”
Principal William Baldwin said the matter came to light after a student informed a teacher over the weekend that the paper was being shared on social media sites.
He said: “We are continuing to investigate and looking at the possibility someone perhaps left the paper unattended or left their computer logged on.”
He said, at present, there was nothing to suggest the theft was a result of a hack. Instead, he said it was likely the theft took place within the college walls.
He added: “We are sympathetic to the hardworking students who prepared but to retain the integrity of the exam we had to pull it.”
The mock, which can be used to provide a predicted grade for university applications, has been rescheduled for Friday.
The theft comes just days after a major hacking attack which shut down a number of NHS trusts.
Mr Baldwin said there could not be a repeat with the actual A-level exams as they are not processed through the college’s computer systems.
Instead, the exam board sends the papers to the college by courier before they are locked in the safe – only to be opened moments before the exam.
He said: “For the papers to be compromised it would take the exam boards to be attacked and they spend hundreds of thousands on cyber security.
“The the integrity and security of our external examinations system is as robust as it can be.”
He said the police had not been contacted, adding that anyone found to be involved would be dealt with through the college’s disciplinary process.
One mother said: “It was stressful as my son was psyched up and ready but also very anxious about it. The school reacted quickly and apparently the exam is being rescheduled. On the plus side, I suppose they can do a bit more revision.”