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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Exam board says let teachers assess
exam room
Exam boards have to mark some 18 million entries
The head of the Edexcel exam board has said teachers ought to be used more to assess students' work because the boards are finding it hard to cope.

Edexcel's chief executive, John Kerr, said the pressure on the system was going to get worse.

But the Department for Education said qualifications had to be "rigorously and robustly assessed" and it had no plans to change things.

Teachers think such internal assessment might only add to their workload.


Last week Edexcel had to apologise because problems at one of its printers resulted in Key Skills exams for sixth formers and college students being published with mistakes and omissions.

Earlier in the year it got into trouble for other mistakes and incurred the wrath of the Education Secretary, Estelle Morris.

The exam regulator, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, stepped up its scrutiny of the board.

But the QCA found itself apologising last week for having set an unclear Key Skills question - and having failed to get national curriculum tests to dozens of schools.

With the main exam season now underway, Edexcel and the AQA and OCR boards have to mark more than 18 million separate entries.

They are having trouble finding enough markers.


In an interview with the Press Association news agency, Mr Kerr said: "It's a system that's under pressure and it's going to get worse."

John Kerr
John Kerr: Under pressure
He thinks test centres - the schools and colleges - could do more assessment themselves.

"We think it would certainly be a good idea to look at the whole question of assessment within centres, using the boards as moderators to provide a standards check."

He pointed to new-style BTech exams, which involve a good deal of internal assessment, backed by external checks.


Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said a former Tory education secretary, Kenneth Baker, had stopped teachers from assessing pupils because he did not respect their judgement.

And teachers had enough to do.

"Whether they want more thrown at them before those burdens that are not of direct benefit to pupils are taken away remains to be seen," he added.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "Qualifications must be rigorously and robustly assessed to demonstrate that students have met the standards required.

"Coursework has a valuable role to play in the assessment process - and assessment is appropriately regulated.

"But there are no plans to change the balance between external and internal assessment."

See also:

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