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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
'Whistleblower' exam marker quits
Exam checking
Non-teachers were used to second mark simpler questions
A man who worked for an exam board has left his job after claiming he was given just 20 minutes' training to mark GCSEs.

Richard Pope worked for Edexcel as a desk top publisher, and like other graduate employees there, volunteered to mark exam papers for extra money.

He was astounded to be given religious education papers to mark even though he had no qualification in the subject.

Edexcel insists Mr Pope was qualified to mark papers and was well supervised.

Mr Pope spoke anonymously to the Times Educational Supplement on Friday, describing how he was given just 20 minutes' training in exam marking.

He has now revealed his identity, accusing Edexcel of being more interested in getting results out on time than in the quality of the marking.

'Almost surreal'

The exam board confirmed earlier this week that it was using administrative staff to help mark this summer's GCSE papers.

Edexcel said graduate staff, some of whom work in secretarial posts, had carried out "secondary marking", or checking, of religious studies scripts.

Mr Pope said he replied to a company email asking for qualified workers to help mark religious studies papers.

He then turned up for a training session for Edexcel's online marking system on a Saturday afternoon.

Mr Pope said he was not just marking multiple choice questions but extended written answers which he claimed required specialist knowledge of the subject.

"I think it's awful. It's so bad it's almost surreal. Making sure you hit your targets becomes more important than a pupil who has worked his guts out," he said.

Edexcel is confident that every candidate's paper was marked by a suitably qualified marker
Edexcel spokeswoman

"It's just terrifying. I really hope that pupils don't lose faith in their own abilities.

"Pupils have every right to demand what kind of system they want, what kind of people they want to mark their papers. Do they want people they would not respect as examiners marking their papers?"

A spokeswoman for Edexcel dismissed Mr Pope's claims that he was not qualified or properly vetted and insisted that ensuring the quality of marking was paramount.

She said: "He was consistently supervised by an online assessment person and people in the team who were supervising him.

"If he wasn't marking properly he would have been removed. Some people were.

"Edexcel is confident that every candidate's paper was marked by a suitably qualified marker."

All the exam board's procedures met the standards set by the exam watchdog, she said. "Every marker was trained, standardised and tested to see that they understood and followed the mark scheme.

"The marking centre staff were at all times supervised."

Admin staff 'marking GCSE papers'
22 Aug 05 |  Education

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