Desperate search for markers

EXAM boards are struggling to find examiners in at least six subjects in time to mark this year's GCSE and A-level papers.

With just four weeks to go before the exam season is over, the search for markers continues.

According to John Kerr, chief executive of exam board Edexcel, shortfall subjects include GCSE English literature and language, RE history and ICT. A-level economics and psychology markers are also thin on the ground.

All the boards deny that examiner recruitment problems will affect the quality of results or issue dates.

However, there were concerns last year that the shortage of examiners led to existing examiners being overburdened with piles of scripts. Schools claimed this affected the standard of marking.

An audit report of exam board AQA's performance in last year's bumper exam season said there was too much reliance on the good will of experienced examiners.

Edexcel was also criticised for its plan to use trainee teachers to mark history GCSE this summer.

Teacher unions, heads' associations and exam boards have called for more action from the Government to address the annual struggle to sign up examiners.

A pay increase has been suggested. On average, examiners earn pound;10 an hour, according to the Joint Council for General Qualifications, the exam boards' umbrella body.

However, one former A-level examiner claimed the rate of pay was inadequate, if not insulting. "I was earning pound;8 an hour, the same rate I paid the window-cleaner," he said.

According to Mr Kerr, the situation is likely to get worse in the coming years because many examiners are nearing retirement age.

He has asked for examining to be given status in teachers' professional development. He said last week that teachers should take on more assessment, using the boards as moderators.

The Secondary Heads Association supports the idea of chartered examiners - senior teachers who would be responsible for upholding standards in schools.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you