Board drops whistleblower

30th May 2003 at 01:00
An examiner who spoke out about the pre-setting of A-level grades has been banned from marking.

Annis Garfield told Radio 4's Today programme she had lost her job with the OCR exam board because she went public with her concerns over grade "fiddling".

She told The TES: "I have been sent an invitation to mark papers every year since 1976. When it did not come this year I asked why, and OCR dodged my questions. Eventually I was told it was because I had gone to the media."

Last June, Mrs Garfield told the press that OCR had instructed her to award 26 per cent of AS-level English candidates grade As and 50 per cent Cs - regardless of ability.

Her allegations were the first in a series about last year's exams. Later OCR was also accused of raising grade boundaries so that fewer candidates would score high marks. An inquiry found that 2,000 students had been given incorrect grades.

Mrs Garfield said: "I do not expect to be sacked. I think it is important people like me are marking. I am entirely objective and am not swayed by considerations of the board, candidates or Government targets.

"The really important question we should be asking now is 'who is putting OCR up to fiddling the results?'," she added.

OCR told Mrs Garfield she was not trained to examine this year because she had not marked A-level English literature last year. But it then advertised for examiners who did not need marking experience. It was not until she confronted the board that Mrs Garfield, who has never taught, was told her comments had cost her her job.

An OCR spokesman confirmed that Mrs Garfield, 53, had not been selected as an examiner.

He added: "Mrs Garfield was contracted to be an examiner last year. In the event, she only marked 25 of the papers allocated to her and returned the rest. OCR was required to find a replacement at short notice. Such actions jeopardise the successful delivery of exam results. OCR cannot be expected to use an examiner who has previously been unreliable."

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