AQA staff face job cutbacks after loss of more than pound;5m

Warwick Mansell

Britain's biggest exam board is to close two of its five offices and make staff redundant after posting losses of more than pound;5 million last year.

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, which is at the centre of a row over moves to scrap exams in 11 subjects, including Latin and Greek, because of costs, made an operating deficit of pound;5.035m in 200203.

The figure, revealed in annual accounts, represents an improvement on losses of pound;11.5m registered for 200102, when all exam boards struggled to cope with introducing Curriculum 2000 reforms at A-level.

However, since the accounts for 200203 were compiled, AQA has lost an pound;80m contract to administer national curriculum tests for 11 and 14-year-olds to its rival, Pearson Education.

Mike Cresswell, AQA director general, said the board expected to come near to breaking even in the year 200304. But further efficiency savings would include redundancies. He would not say how many.

He said offices in Newcastle and Bristol would close within a year. Around 100 staff work in the Newcastle office, half on the national tests. About 12 staff work at Bristol.

Dr Cresswell said staff were being given the option to transfer to other offices.

The accounts for the year to September 30, 2003, reveal that AQA, a non-profit-making charity, collected pound;124m from exam fees, of pound;129m total income. It spent pound;134m. Reserves still stood at pound;51.6m.

Dr Cresswell said reserves were vital to allow the board to support future developments, including changes associated with the Tomlinson review of secondary qualifications and investment in marking technology.

The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA board made an operating profit of pound;4.8m, on an income of pound;76.9m in the year 200203, its accounts reveal. It collected pound;70.7m in exam fees. Reserves stood at pound;14m.

Edexecel's accounts for 200203 are expected to be filed at the end of this year.

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Warwick Mansell

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