GCSEs 2021: Teachers don't want to mark external tests

Many teachers opposed to having to mark an externally set component of assessment for this summer's GCSEs and A levels
15th January 2021, 2:31pm
Catherine Lough


GCSEs 2021: Teachers don't want to mark external tests

Tags: 3 Lessons For Teaching & Learning Next Year

Teachers have criticised the suggestion that they may be expected to mark students' answers to exam board questions for this year's GCSE and A-level grades.

The plan, which sources see as the most likely outcome from the consultation on 2021 GCSEs and A levels due to be launched today, would involve all actual assessment being left to teachers.

As Tes revealed this morning, exam boards' role would be to draw up questions with mark schemes, train teachers and conduct light-touch checks.

But the actual assessment and marking would be left to teachers. And many say they are unhappy with the proposal.

They are questioning the impact on their workload at an already fraught time and why they would be doing an extra job that exam boards are paid for.

Teachers should be able to express their views on the idea to the two-week joint Ofqual and Department for Education consultation when it launches. Tes understands that it leaves the question of who marks any external components open.

However, among some of those involved in working out the plan, there is a strong preference for it to be teachers who do the assessment.

GCSEs 2021: Teachers to mark exam board questions

In full: Ofqual's letter on summer grades

In full: Gavin Williamson's exams letter to Ofqual

No algorithm: Teacher judgements won't be second-guessed

"This feels like a complete slap in the face," teacher Shuaib Khan commented on social media.

"Why do we have exam boards if we are doing the marking? What about our workload? Utter lunacy. I suppose it's their way of solving the yearly examiner crisis. This obsession with exams is just plain and simple wrong."

GCSEs and A levels 2021: Teachers worried about marking external tests

Sarra Culleno said: "Exam marking was freelance work. Do teachers take the hours/days/weeks of work on based on how much they are willing to do added to contracted hours? Or will they have time factored into timetables?"

Many questioned why teachers were expected to mark external tasks for free when, under normal circumstances, examiners would be paid.

"Do they know examiners normally get paid extra to mark? Is there going to be payment to compensate for this time?" one teacher asked.

So teachers will be unpaid examiners?

- Helen RB (@helsrb) January 14, 2021

"As a teacher who will lose my additional pay as an assessor but will end up with nearly as much to mark, this sucks! Tests should be marked externally - then benchmarks can be set and possibly malpractice picked up on. Oh dear, there would be exams then..." another commented.

Not only is this piling workload onto teachers, it's doing markers like myself out of over £1000 in income!! Not all markers are teachers topping up their salaries you know... #Markerstomarkexams

- Ste (@sjk26381) January 15, 2021

Some said that the external tasks needed to include "optionality" - where teachers could choose questions from a "bank" of options to ensure students were only tested on content they had covered - and that this should then be marked by examiners.

Teachers should be able to form the papers through bank questions formed by the exam boards, thus ensuring that their students know the content! Then they should be able to be sent away to be marked by an external marker against the relevant bank model answers.

- Nicola Hope (@n_hassall) January 15, 2021

And many pointed out that the proposal would impact on teaching and learning time for exam classes when timetables were already stretched.

"How are teachers going to have time to do this marking? My GCSE group is not officially on my timetable - it runs as an enrichment - so I have no gain time to do this marking," Collette Iglinski said.

So just as all teachers are dropping with exhaustion and anxiety over continual changes, the DfE has kindly decided to give them more training, on top of online lessons, calls home and the usual assessment tasks.

Just what the doctor ordered.

- East Kent Tutors (@eastkent_tutors) January 14, 2021

But not all felt that it was fair to compare a teacher marking tasks for their class with work as an examiner.

Briley Habib said: "You can't compare marking your teaching class to 7,000 responses for about £500."

And Suzanne Bunn commented: "I am already using the old exam questions with online teaching and marking them. Tthis really isn't any different other than having a new bank of questions.

"I am an exam marker usually so not a problem and most teachers should only have one set to mark 30 papers."

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