19th October 2013 at 11:00
A second of England’s three major exam boards has begun a major wave of job losses as the industry reacts to government reforms that will mean a big reduction in the number of tests sat.
The OCR board is cutting around 90 of its 600 posts in a round of redundancies understood to be hitting all departments.
A spokesman said a third of all staff at the Cambridge-based board could be affected by job changes as part of a restructuring being carried out in response to ministers’ decision to change from modular to linear A levels and GCSEs and to restrict the number of re-sits.
“The policy and regulatory shifts in syllabus and exam reform are requiring OCR to move swiftly,” said Mark Dawe, OCR Chief Executive. “Schools and colleges need more dynamic and agile partners to meet those challenges. As a result OCR must adapt so that we can all work effectively in the interests of students.”
Last week TES revealed that AQA, the UK’s biggest school exams board, was consulting on cutting staff numbers in its IT and “change management” departments by a third, in plans that would mean more than 50 job losses.
This week it also emerged that the third of England’s big three school exam board’s, Edexcel, is responding to the government’s exam system reforms with a staffing review.
But a spokesperson for parent company Pearson said the changes, yet to be finalised, would only mean “tiny numbers” of job losses.
“Whenever there is a change in the exams system we review how we operate,” she said. “Pearson is a global organisation of over 40,000 people. We are working with the handful of people in the UK affected by recent changes and wherever possible we are working with them to seek other opportunities in the company.”
Last week AQA denied staff claims, reported by the union, Unison, that its changes would lead to more delays and mistakes in GCSE and A level results.
The board also denied that its plans were a reaction to government exam reforms, saying they were part of “an ongoing review of normal management arrangements”.
The OCR spokesman said it was hoped that a lot of the jobs being cut could be covered by voluntary redundancy, retirements or redeployment to other parts of parent company Cambridge Assessment’s business.
Mr Dawe said: “Everybody in education is experiencing financial pressure - it’s not surprising that exam boards are feeling the same. We all have to think of ways of working more efficiently and effectively.”