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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
School test papers not delivered
classroom
There is a new emphasis on the early secondary years
Teenagers have been unable to take their national curriculum tests because the exam quango failed to deliver the papers on time.

It is believed that more than 100 schools might have been affected.

The body responsible for administering the tests in England, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), says it thinks probably less than half of one per cent.

The English, maths and science tests are being taken in about 3,500 secondary schools.

The QCA's chief officer, Beverley Evans, apologised "unreservedly" for the late delivery of the tests.

During the two-week test period, 4.2 million test papers were taken by 1,200,000 pupils, she said.

Investigating

"Human error does inevitably occur.

"Systems are in place to ensure that each and every case is dealt with swiftly.

Beverley Evans:
Beverley Evans: Apology
"We are investigating the reasons behind these delays for each individual school affected.

"Most schools that have not received their tests on time should be able to sit the tests as scheduled.

"Where this is not possible, the tests can be taken later.

"Our goal is that every single pupil is able to take the tests and that every school should receive them on time.

"We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused to schools. We will ensure that no schools or pupils are disadvantaged."

One where papers certainly did not turn up is Halyard High School in Luton, Bedfordshire, where the English test should have been taken by about 190 14-year-old pupils on Tuesday.

New focus

The test papers did not arrive until Thursday. The children have now taken the tests.

A spokeswoman for Luton Council said: "The school did everything it could to rectify the situation and the relevant children have now taken their Key Stage English tests."

The tests - marking the end of what is known as Key Stage 3 of the curriculum - have taken on a new significance this year.

Previously, secondary schools have been judged primarily on their pupils' results in their GCSE public exams, taken two years later.

But the government is now putting a new emphasis on improving performance in "the middle years", the first few years of secondary school.

So for the first time this year ministers intend to put the Key Stage 3 test results in English, maths and science in the league tables published in the autumn.

The general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, John Dunford, said: "The number of examinations now taking place in schools in the summer term has reached nightmare proportions.

"This requires a 100% efficient service from QCA and the exam boards."

  • Some schools in London could have problems staging the tests for 11 year olds next week because of a strike by caretakers and site managers belonging to the union Unison.

    They are due to walk out for a day on Tuesday in a strike over London cost-of-living allowances, and the union has said that some schools might have to close as a result.

  • See also:

    11 Apr 02 | Education
    Education chief attacks test regime
    11 Apr 02 | Education
    The tests are back
    31 Mar 02 | Education
    Tests boycott call by teachers
    02 Jul 01 | Education
    Maths goal for teenagers lowered
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