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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 06:58 GMT 07:58 UK
Exams cost school more than books
Desks
More exams means more expense for schools

A head teacher in Suffolk says that his school is spending one and half times more on exam fees than it is on books and resources to teach the subjects being examined.

After the dispute over this year's A-level results, head teachers are increasingly resentful of the amount of money and time soaked up by the exam system.

As well as GCSEs and A-levels, schools are now paying for AS-levels and tests taken by 14-year-old pupils - and re-marking involves additional expense.

Dave Forrest, head of Orwell High School in Felixstowe, says that his school is spending 60,000 per year in exam fees - more than he can afford for books and learning resources.

If this figure, typical of many secondary schools, is applied to all the schools taking A-levels this year, it would represent over 120m every year disappearing from school budgets.

Entering a pupil for an A-level can cost 54 - and re-marks cost another 22.

And he says that as a customer of the exam boards, schools are not getting good value for money.

Bill for 250,000

Schools with large numbers of pupils can face exam bills of up to 250,000 each year, says the Secondary Heads Association, which has called for a reform of the exam system.

Stephen Nokes, head of John Hampden Grammar School in High Wycombe, estimates that exams are now costing his school 100,000, once staffing and administration costs are included.

And he is annoyed that despite this drain on budgets, schools are not getting a good service from exam boards.

His school sent back all the English tests taken by 14 year olds (Key Stage 3 tests) for re-marking, because "the standard of marking was appalling".

Mr Nokes also criticises the standard of administration and the "lack of transparency" in their dealings with schools.

The alleged A-level grades manipulation

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