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Headteacher's fury after exam marking crisis

PUBLISHED: 12:26 25 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:14 07 September 2010

EDUCATION chiefs have called for national curriculum tests to be scrapped as the recent marking fiasco plunges the exam system into chaos. Schools from across Haringey are among the thousands countrywide to fall victim to the marking scandal which has led

EDUCATION chiefs have called for national curriculum tests to be scrapped as the recent marking fiasco plunges the exam system into chaos.

Schools from across Haringey are among the thousands countrywide to fall victim to the marking scandal which has led to delays and potentially inaccurate marking of Sats for pupils aged between 11 and 14.

Weston Primary School in Crouch End is one of the worst hit with one third of papers needing to be remarked.

The school's headteacher Andrew Wickham is furious about the blunder and hopes it will bring an end to the tests, which have attracted controversy since they were first rolled out in 1991.

"I hope this will mark the end of Sats nationally. I'm in favour of assessing children's academic progress, as teachers that's what we should be doing. But the current system costs a lunatic amount of money and does not serve our children."

Union chief Tony Brockman, of Haringey NUT which represents 85 per cent of Haringey teachers, said: "International comparisons show that England has the most over-tested schoolchildren in the world.

"With foundation stage assessment, key stage tests, GCSE, A-Levels and the new diplomas there is an exam industry burgeoning out of control."

The blunder arose when the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) gave Educational Testing Services (ETS) - an American testing firm - the Sats marking contract for £156 million. Yet it is estimated that up to 25 per cent of the 1.2 million exam papers for 11 and 14-year-olds may have to be remarked in the next few weeks because of suspected inaccuracies.

Mr Wickham, who has been at Weston park for 13 years, believes the marking system is shambolic and creates more work.

"We are concerned about the quality of marking for the English writing papers for our 11-year-olds," he said. "I've had to sit down and re-mark every paper to check for any discrepancies.

"It's a slow process which has created at least 30 hours of extra work for teachers at the end of term.

"It's also been infuriating this year in that the results did not come back with the exam papers. We had been planning to send the results out with the school reports two weeks ago but we did not receive them in time.

"ETS certainly ought to lose its contract for being so incompetent."

Roz Wilkinson, headteacher of St Mary's Junior School in Hornsey, said that there had been discrepancies over the marks of three of the 53 pupils who took their Sats this year.

She said: "It was inconvenient that we received the results late because we could not give them to parents at parents' evening."

A spokesperson for Haringey Council said: "It is not clear yet how many papers may need to be re-marked. Once schools have collated the information we will be in a better position to comment."

The Department for Children, Schools and Families continued to stand by the Sats.

A spokesman said: "Tests help pupils and their parents to understand how well they are doing, they help parents and teachers to understand how well their school is doing and for the public to see how schools are doing."

Mr Brockman, secretary of the NUT, remains unconvinced.

"There has never been any clarity about the purpose of the key stage tests," he said. "Teachers need diagnostic tests to assess student understanding, learning needs and to evaluate their own performance.

"It must be time for them to be scrapped.

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